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EMBREY v. HARGADINE-McKITTRICK DRY GOODS Co. - 115 Mo. App. 130, 91 S.W. 170 (1905)

Rule:

A proposal for an agreement which refers for its terms to a previous contract between the parties, is sufficiently definite.

Facts:

A former employee filed an action against his former employer seeking damages for breach of a parol contract to renew his employment as a manager. He alleged that his employer had entered into an oral contract for a year. The trial court entered a verdict for the employer. On appeal, the former employee contended that the trial court erred in ordering a verdict because the oral contract was a valid contract. The employer argued that the contract was barred by the statute of frauds.

Issue:

Was the employee employed by an oral contract for a year?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court reversed the judgment and remanded the cause. The court observed that the former employee's proposal had been definite enough to constitute the basis of a contract and that the evidence went to show that the employer had accepted it both by words and conduct. The court stated that a reasonable person would understand that his contract had been renewed if told that he was all right and to go ahead with his work, in response to a request for renewal, accompanied with notice that unless it was granted he would forthwith seek employment elsewhere. The court pointed out that the employer, knowing the former employee's desire for a definite arrangement which would insure him work for a year, permitted him to continue in its service until it chose, for economy's sake, to discharge him. The court observed that the former employee's testimony went to establish a contract, performance of which was to be finished in a year, and it stated that the statute of frauds was no defense to that agreement.

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