Hobbs v. Massasoit Whip Co.

158 Mass. 194, 33 N.E. 495 (1893)

 

RULE:

Conduct which imports acceptance or assent is acceptance or assent in the view of the law, whatever may have been the actual state of mind of the party, a principle sometimes lost sight of in the cases.

FACTS:

Plaintiff brought an action for sum of money against a whip company, upon an account annexed for the payment for eel skins sold by plaintiff to the whip company. The plaintiff had sent eelskins in the same way four or five times before, which skins had been accepted and paid for by the company. During the last transaction, the plaintiff received no notice that the company declined to accept the skins and kept them for some months until they were destroyed. Plaintiff also testified that, as in previous sales, he delivered the skins in question to an individual who forwarded them to defendant. At the trial the jury returned a verdict for plaintiff and the company alleged exceptions to an instruction to the jury which stated that plaintiff was warranted in sending the company skins conforming to the requirements, and even if the offer was not such that the contract was made as soon as skins corresponding to its terms were sent, sending them imposed on the company a duty to act about them.

ISSUE:

Was a plaintiff entitled to damages from a defendant after he had sent the defendant products as he had in the past and the defendant did not reject, and thereafter destroyed the products?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The Court held that the conduct of the trial court importing acceptance, the retention of the skins, was acceptance in the view of the law and the jury instruction was warranted. Silence on the company's part, coupled with a retention of the skins for an unreasonable time, could be found by the jury to warrant plaintiff in assuming that they were accepted, and thus to amount to an acceptance. 

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