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Tyra v. Cheney - 129 Minn. 428, 152 N.W. 835 (1915)

Rule:

One cannot snap up an offer or bid knowing that it was made in mistake.

Facts:

Plaintiff allegedly gave the defendant an oral bid for roofing and sheet metal work. When the bid was put in writing, the plaintiff mistakenly left out $963 of the total amount. Subsequently, defendant was told to go ahead with the work. Plaintiff did some work and furnished some material in the performance of the contract. Plaintiff then brought the present action to recover the reasonable value of work performed for the defendant. Defendant denied ever receiving any estimate, bid or figures, except the written bid. The court, in submitting the case, charged that the burden was upon plaintiff to show, by a fair preponderance of testimony, that when defendant gave plaintiff the direction to proceed with the work, it was done with knowledge of plaintiff's mistake of $963 in the written bid, and of his resting under the belief that it conformed to the oral bid of $4,025, so that it might be truthfully found that defendant did not accept the written bid of $3,062 in good faith, then plaintiff could recover the reasonable value, otherwise the verdict must be limited to the amount tendered in the answer. Thereafter, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint, which was denied by the District Court. It then affirmed the jury verdict for the plaintiff. Defendant appealed.

Issue:

Did the District Court err in ruling in favor of the plaintiff?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court affirmed the trial court's judgment for the plaintiff. According to the Court, the trial court properly instructed the jury that the plaintiff had the burden to show, by fair preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant directed the plaintiff to proceed with the work with knowledge of the mistake. In such case, the plaintiff could recover the reasonable value of the services. The defendant could not snap up the bid knowing that it was a mistake and the plaintiff could not profit by its own mistake by holding the defendant to the oral bid.

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