The Law School Authority

Walker v. Keith Case Brief

Summary of Walker v. Keith
Ct. App. Kentucky, 1964

Relevant Facts: Walker/appellants/lessor, leased a small lot to appellee, Keith, for a 10 year term at a rent of $100/mo.  Keith was given the option to extend for another 10 yrs. under the same terms except the rental price.  Keith gave notice to renew but neither could agree on the rental price.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the provision of the renewal is so indefinite and uncertain that the parties cannot be held have agreed upon this essential rental term of the lease?

Court’s Holding: Yes

Procedure: Advisory jury returned a verdict for the Pl, and the judge fixed the price at $125/mo.  Reversed.

Law or Rule(s): Requirement of writing to evidence an agreement is to assure certainty of the essential terms thereof and to avoid controversy and litigation(Statute of Frauds)

Court Rationale: A renewal option stands on the same footing as any other contract right.  Rent is a material term of a lease.  The parties failed to enter into a new agreement as the renewal option provided, and thereby their rights were no longer fixed by the contract. If the parties do not fix it with reasonable certainty it is not the business of courts to do so.  The renewal provision is fatally defective in failing to specify either an agreed rental or an agreed method by which it could be fixed with certainty.  B/c of the lack of agreement, the lessee’s option right was illusory.

Plaintiff’s Argument: Local comparative business conditions are easily determined with certainty.

Defendant’s Argument: National business conditions and local business condition are opposing, therefor indefinite, and vague.

Interpolated-distributed or interjected as an additive.

Emasculation – to fix or physically separate, neutralize.

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