Dead Parrot wrote:K's Hypo:
Farmer McGregor had a carrot stand, covered with large signs saying: “CARROTS: $50 A BOX!” Rabbit had just purchased a box of carrots from Farmer McGregor and was carrying them back to his hutch. Suddenly, Fox, who had been running around and annoying Farmer McGregor all day, started racing around madly, and accidentally crashed into Rabbit. The box of carrots was knocked into a nearby lake, and quickly disappeared. Rabbit also suffered an injured ear, and Dr. Dog, who happened to be nearby, wrapped it in a giant, brightly covered bandage.
Later that day, Fox came over to Rabbit and said, “I’m sorry about what happened. Please take this 50 dollar bill as my payment for the harm I caused.” Rabbit took the 50 dollar bill, saying, “You really need to be more careful next time.”
Two days later, Dr. Dog trotted over to Rabbit, and removed the large bandage. Dr. Dog then said, “You owe me $200 for medical services.” Rabbit went over to Fox and told him “I want $200 for the medical services you caused me to need.” Fox said, “I don’t think so. We’ve already agreed that I’ve paid you all I needed to.”
Of course, there are no courts in fables. Nonetheless, please analyze this fable from a contract lawyer's point of view. Please use the terminology, rules, and principles we have discussed this semester in your answer.
the issue is whether rabbit signed a waiver that waived his rights. contracts do not need to be written down unless they fall under the statute of frauds. a liability waiver or pre-litigation settlement does not need to be written down (indeed, the court system tries to encourage parties to settle their disputes outside of court), and the payment can serve as evidence of a contract as courts look at the behavior of the parties to measure what their subjective intent was.
it is possible for a liability waiver to lay out payment for past harms but not future harms. p obviously hopes the $50 was just a mere down payment. however, if we look at the offer the expressed words were, please take this $50 payment for the harm that I caused you. This wording suggests that the contract refers to all of the harm caused by D. P will point to the fact he had further harm, but this was still harm caused by D in the initial accident so would fall under the scope of the offer. D will argue for the doctrine of caveat emptor - that the same way a buyer often bares the burden of non-disclosures (as long as there is not a non-disclosure with concealment [is this right?]), there is no reason why liability waivers should not be treated in similar fashion.
By his actions, D seems to have accepted the offer. A party does not have to say I agree, and can accept by silence. When no method of acceptance is prescribed by the buyer, one can accept the offer by doing anything consistent with acceptance (either by returning a promise in lines with the content of the offer, or by performance). Here P seems to have accepted by performance in taking the check.
However, (NOT SURE IF I'M RIGHT HERE - PLEASE CORRECT: If this was a check, P may be able to argue that D just dropped it in his hand and it was not acceptance until he deposited it, which he may not have done yet). Regardless, D clearly made tender by showing a willingness to pay, and based on his carrot stand business in which he makes $50 per box it is reasonable to presume he had the $50 in his account to clear, particularly if P saw him sell any boxes of carrots.
P's major argument may come in the form of capacity as he just had an ear injury from an accident that may have rendered him mentally deficient when he accepted the K (an ear injury can potentially impact cognitive function, if the inner ear is injured, and certainly influences hearing). Generally, if a party lacks the capacity to reasonably understand the nature and consequences of a contract, or is unable to act in a reasonable manner in relation to their duties within the contract then that K may be voidable or void ab initio (no K from the start). In addition to the party's mental states, the courts also look at the fairness of the underlaying agreement and the knowledge the non-disadvantaged party had of the disadvantaged party's capacity.
If P was still having the ill mental effects, he may be able to void the contract. However, in all likelihood, because it was later that day and an ear injury in all likelihood P regained his senses. Nonetheless, because he had an injured ear it's feasible that P did not hear D's offer, which would make him similar to an ILLITERATE PARTY when dealing with a written K (illiterates can't read, deaf people can't hear). Although it's true, he still had another ear, the injury may have produced ringing that effected his ability to comprehend sound.
The general rule is that an illiterate party has a duty to have the contract read to them, and can only escape liability if they are fraudulently induced or pressured into signing the contract. D may have acted in bad faith to induce him into an oral contract. The contract itself does seem highly unfair, D was aware of the condition P suffered (as he caused it), and it would not be unreasonable for P to assume if he could not hear that the $50 is just a down payment to show good faith and D will cover any additional costs.