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Hunter v. Egolf Motor Co. - 268 Ill. App. 1 (1932)

Rule:

All contracts with infants, except for necessaries, are voidable at the instance of the infant.

Facts:

Plaintiff C.H., a minor of the age of 18, entered into a conditional sales contract for the purchase of a car from defendant Egolf Motor Company ("Egolf"). At the time, he told Egolf that he was 22 years old. C.H. later experienced problems with the car and had it repaired by Egolf. When Egolf presented him with a bill for the repairs, C.H. refused to pay and demanded the return of his money and his used car that he had traded-in as part of the transaction. Egolf refused the demand, and C.H., by his next friend, plaintiff Morris Harry, filed a lawsuit against Egolf in Illinois state court seeking to recover consideration he paid under the contract. C.H. claimed that as a minor he was not bound by the contract. A jury rendered a verdict for the C.H., and the trial court entered judgment on the verdict. Egolf appealed.

Issue:

Could C.H. disaffirm his contract despite the fact that he represented to Egolf that he was not a minor?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed the trial court's judgment. The evidence clearly established that the car sold to C.H. was not obtained by fraud, but was obtained as a result of a contract between the parties. It was apparent that C.H. at the time of making the contract intended to fulfil the contract's obligations. He delivered his car and paid $ 140 in cash and thereafter duly paid the first instalment to Egolf. Before another instalment was due, the dispute arose between the parties—not as to any fraudulent act—but solely as to the rights of the parties under the terms and conditions of the contract. The contract was not a void contract but only voidable at the instance of C.H., the court ruled. The court observed that the exercise of a minor's right to disaffirm his contract might operate injuriously and sometimes unjustly against the other party, but the right existed for the protection of the infant against his own improvidence and could be exercised entirely in his discretion.

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