Wood v. Boynton Case Brief

Summary of Wood v. Boynton
S Ct WI 225 N W 42 [1885]

Avoidance of the K: Mutual Mistake

Relevant Facts: Dfs are partners in the jewelry business. Pl was the owner of a small stone of the nature and value of which she was ignorant. Pl sold the stone to the Dfs for $1. Afterward Pl learned that the stone was worth about $700 and attempted to tender the $1 plus $.10 interest to the Dfs demanding the return. Dfs refused.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the Pl could rescind the sale of the uncut diamond upon discovery that the stone was valued at nearly $1000?

Court’s Holding: No

Procedure: Circuit ct jury trial; judge directed jury to find for Df; Pl excepted, motion for new trial – Denied; PL appealed. S. Ct WI Affirmed.

Law or Rule(s): The only reasons for rescinding a sale and revesting title for the recovery of possession against the vendee are 1) that the vendee was guilty of some fraud in procuring the sale to be made to him; 2) that there was a mistake made by the vendor in delivering an article which was not the article sold, – a mistake in fact as to the identity of the thing sold with the thing delivered.

Court Rationale: The Pl’s own evidence shows that she was not induced to make the sale she did by any fraud or unfair dealings on the part of the Dfs. Both were entirely ignorant at the time of the character and nature of the stone and its intrinsic value. If she chose to sell it w/o further investigation as to its intrinsic value to a person who was guilty of no fraud or unfairness which induced her to sell it for a small sum, she cannot repudiate the sale afterwards b/c she ascertained that she made a bad bargain. There was no warranty made and unless Pl could show that Pl had been told it was a diamond or that the Df knew the stone was a diamond, there could be no rescission based on fraud. In the absence of fraud or warranty, the value of the property sold, as compared with the price paid, is no ground for a recission of a sale.

Plaintiff’s Argument: B/c the stone was immensely more valuable than the parties at the time of the sale supposed it was is ground for rescission b/c that fact was evidence of fraud on the part of the Df.

Defendant’s Argument: Df had no knowledge in the sale or identification of uncut diamonds and informed the Pl of that fact. Df did no know that the stone, when sold, was an uncut diamond.

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