Kiefer v. Fred Howe Motors, Inc.

39 Wis. 2d 20, 158 N.W.2d 288 (1968)

 

RULE:

To be actionable a false representation must consist, first, of a statement of fact which is untrue; second, that it was made with intent to defraud and for the purpose of inducing the other party to act upon it; third, that he did in fact rely on it and was induced thereby to act, to his injury or damage.

FACTS:

On August 9, 1965, Steven Kiefer entered into a contract with the defendant, Fred Howe Motors, Inc. ("dealer" hereinafter) for the purchase of a 1960 Willys station wagon. Kiefer paid the contract price of $ 412 and took possession of the car. At the time of the sale, Kiefer was twenty years old, married, and the father of one child. Kiefer had difficulty with the car which he claimed was caused by a cracked block. Kiefer contacted the dealer and asked it to take the car back. Several other attempts to secure some adjustment with the dealer failed and Kiefer contacted Attorney Paul C. Konnor. The attorney wrote a letter to the dealer advising it that Kiefer was under twenty-one at the time of the sale. The letter declared the contract void, tendered return of the automobile and demanded repayment of the purchase price. There was no response so this action was commenced to recover the $ 412 purchase price. After a trial to the court, a judgment for Kiefer was entered and the defendant appealed.

ISSUE:

Is a contract entered by an emancipated minor voidable?

ANSWER:

Yes

CONCLUSION:

The court held that the contract of a minor was void or voidable at his option applied and was not affected by the minor's status as emancipated. The court held that an effective disaffirmance of the contract was clearly established through the minor's testimony and a letter from his attorney. The court held that the minor was not liable for misrepresentation because the trial court's finding that he had not orally represented that he was 21 was not contrary to the great weight and clear preponderance of the evidence, and no evidence was adduced to show that the minor intended to defraud the car dealership.

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