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Law School Case Brief

Jacob & Youngs, Inc. v. Kent - 187 A.D. 100, 175 N.Y.S. 281 (App. Div. 1919)

Rule:

Where, by inadvertence or mistake, a minor deviation has been made by a building contractor in the use of pipe, which involves no damage to the owner, and the latter takes possession of and continues to use the building without seeking to disturb in any respect the work done by the contractor, the latter in an action to recover a balance due is entitled to prove that he had substantially performed; that the owner suffered no damage through such innocent mistake, and that what the owner received is what he had the right to expect to get under his contract.

Facts:

Plaintiff brought action to recover the balance of $ 3,483.46 due upon a building contract. Plaintiff alleged that he had duly performed all the terms and conditions of the contract. However, the contract specifications provided that all wrought iron pipe should be a grade known as "Standard pipe" of "Reading" manufacture. A small amount of the iron pipe was of another manufacture. Plaintiff claimed that it had substantially performed the contract, but that through mistake and inadvertence, and not willfully, a minor deviation had been made through which defendant suffered no damage. The trial court entered judgment for defendant based on a directed verdict. The case was appealed.

Issue:

Was the judgment for defendant proper?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The court reversed the trial court judgment and remanded for a new trial. The court found that plaintiff had made a minor deviation from the contract terms that involved no damage to defendant, and that defendant took possession of and continued to use the building without seeking to disturb in any respect the work done by plaintiff. The court held that plaintiff was thus entitled to prove that he had substantially performed the contract, that defendant suffered no damage through its innocent mistake, and that what defendant received was what he had the right to expect under the contract.

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