Contract Case Study – Case of Buder v Sartore
Chapter 47.1: Gift
The Case of Buder v Sartore was a contentious legal dispute which stemmed from a breach of duty to take care of a gift that was held in trust for the children. From the fundamental elements of Contract law, it cannot be disputed that there was a clear agreement between Buder and his father to bestow the former with the duty to take care of the funds in trust for the benefit of the children. Theodore Alexander Buder proposed the arrangement and Buder accepted without any reservations to the terms. Therefore the aspect of mutual assent was fully satisfied.
However, in terms of essentials of a contract, the biggest controversy was manifested when examining the element of consideration. Consideration is the benefit accrued or the detriment suffered in a contractual relationship. It could be easily argued that since there was no payment made to Buder for him to offer such services, the contract would not stand because of lack of consideration. But as an exception to the principle of consideration, the need for it can be obviated either, if there is an element of promissory estoppel in play or if the contract is protect by a statutory provision based on public policy. (Whincup 2008)
With respect to the case at hand, such an arrangement was covered under the Uniform Gifts for Minors Act (UGMA) which was later repealed by the Uniform Transfers for Minors Act (UTMA). These two statutes imposed a fiduciary obligation on the part of the person handling resources belonging to a minor to act as a prudent person while dealing with such resources. The standard of prudence expected by the law is one equal to that of a trustee.
Therefore the appeal by Buder could not go through in any way because he had not invested the money wisely, an act which was ignorant of the plight of the children he was representing.
Chapter 48.8: Adverse Possession
In West Virginia, the law entitles a person who has occupied a piece of land for around ten years to bring an action claiming ownership of that land even if the land is still in the owner’s name. The facts of the case of Naab v Nolan was a clear demonstration of how the principle of adverse possession can be invoked in law. The Naabs bought a piece of land which had a garage in it. The Nolan’s came later, bought an adjacent plot and after survey, it was discovered that the garage encroached in the Nolans’ land.
The dicey situation in this case was whether the Naabs could benefit from the adverse possession of their predecessors on that land. On the other hand, the court also had to consider, whether it was prudent for the Nolans to bear the burden from the conduct of their predecessors on that land in which they acquiesced their rights to claim part of the land. (Jourdan & Radley-Gardner 2010)
The outstanding principle that was established in this case was that the overriding interests in the title to land can always be passed over to the next holder of the title. As a result of this observation, Naab won the case because he was entitled to claim adverse possession of the land.
Chapter 49.2: Implied Warranty of Habitability
Sharon Love and Monarch Apartments entered into a landlord tenant agreement with the subject matter being an apartment in Topeka, Kansas. However, she was always tormented by termites which were all over the cracked walls of the house. Having raised these grievances to the landlord, she was then transferred to another apartment which was even worse. There were roaches all over the place; up to the ceiling. Despite efforts to spray the room, the problem persisted and Sharon vacated the premises, thus terminating the contract.
There is an implied warranty of habitability in such contracts which demand that premises for habitation must be fit, safe and conducive for ordinary residential use. Failure to comply with this warranty by the landlord gives the tenant a myriad of options. (Langdell 1999) He may either, withhold rent equal to the effect, repair the defect and withhold the equivalent cost of the repair; terminate the leasehold or even contemplate seeking legal remedies against the landlord.
The actions of Sharon to leave the apartment were lawful because they are tantamount to unilateral termination of the contract. Even though, Monarch Apartments could front the argument that he did everything possible to avert the situation and that he was in the process of making further repairs.
Chapter 49.5: Tort Liability
Gibbons v Chavez was yet another case about the landlord tenant relationship even though it majorly incorporated principles of tort law. The respondents had an agreement with their tenants (The Diaz’s) that no pets could be kept in the premises without consent of the landlord. In violation of this term, the tenants proceeded to keep a pit bull and another type of dog. Consequently, the dogs escaped from the premises and attacked and injured Josephine Gibbons. Gibbons sued the respondents for damages.
There are two major legal dilemmas that were presented in this case. The first one concerned the contractual obligations of the parties and secondly, the liability of land owners under the rule in Ryland’s v Fletcher. On the first principle, it is evident that the tenant violated term of the leasehold contract and that violation directly led to the tortuous act against the plaintiffs.
On the second front, there is an obligation on all the landlords under the rule in Rylands v Fletcher that if anyone keeps anything on their land which is likely to escape and cause mischief to another person’s premises, then he does so at his own peril. (Markensis & Deakins 2013) With this background in mind, Chavez had the obligation to tame the tenants’ actions and thus the landlord is squarely liable for the injuries caused as a result of this omission. However, I would opine that the damages in this matter should be apportioned proportionally between the landlord and the tenant. In order to realize this, the landlord can be able to sue the tenant so that the costs can be shared among the two depending on the degree of negligence.
Klass, G. (2010). Contract law in the USA. Austin: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.
Jourdan, S., & Radley-Gardner, O. (2010). Adverse possession. Haywards Heath: Bloomsbury Professional.
Miller, R. L. R., & Jentz, G. A. (2010). Fundamentals of business law: Excerpted cases. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.
D’Aversa, C. Y., American Bar Association., & American Bar Association. (2006). Tax, estate, and lifetime planning for minors. Chicago, Ill: ABA, Section of Real Property, Probate and Trust Law, General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division.
Whincup, M. H. (2006). Contract law and practice: The English system with Scottish, Commonwealth, and Continental comparisons. Alphen den Rijn: Kluwer Law International.
Deakin, S. F., Johnston, A. C., & Markesinis, B. (2013). Markesinis and Deakin’s tort law.
Langdell, C. C. (1999). A selection of cases on the law of contracts: With references and citations. Union, N.J: Lawbook Exchange.
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