Elsinore Union Elementary School District v. Kastorff (1960)


– Subcontracting bids by 8pm, august 12, 1952…Usually last minute bids…very hectic.
– Plumbing bid for $9,285 but then received a $6,500 bid, $3,000 less at the last hour.
o Erroneously thinking he added the $9,285 to his total, he subtracted 3g’s to show the difference for the new, lower, $6,500 bid.
 Total of $89,994, no allowance at all for the plumbing.
 His bid was $11,306 less than the next closest and was accepted by the school district (next morning checked his worksheets and realized his error).
 Evidence shows that it was a clerical error….Same morning, called superintendent at Kastroff and wanted to rescind his bid.
– Plaintiff damages for lowest bidder ($102,900)…wanted difference of $12,906 for what the Kastroff originally intended…plus $4,499.60 bond posted with the bid.
– Defendant argues that he made an honest mistake, and quickly (next morning) tried to rescind his bid upon the new findings.
o Defendant’s used Kemper case when a contractor makes a clerical error he is entitled to rescind.
 Result of an excusable and honest mistake of a material and fundamental character, no negligence, acted promptly, board. accepted bid with knowledge of mistake, city suffered no damages, or intervening rights bad not been accrued.
 Unjust and unfair to hold Kemper reliable for the 300K that it left out.
– Plaintiffs suggest that in any event, the amount the plumbing bid omitted from the total was immaterial.

Procedural History

– District court ruled in favor of School District.
– Kastorff appealed and won in the California supreme court.
– Trial court stated that it cannot be ascertained from the evidence what the right hand column, or the three bid sheets meant.
o Plaintiff did not know intentions to be other than 89K, or it was an honest error, didn’t try to take advantage of Kastorff (knowingly).
 Wouldn’t be inequitable or unjust to enforce this contract.
 Damages were given in the amount sought by the plaintiffs.


– Was Kastroff offer to rescind a legit one based up material and fundamental character, no negligence, acting promptly and city suffered no damages?


– Yes, the amount left out is of material consequences….It was plainly material in the courts view.


– “Recession may be had for mistake of fact if the mistake is material to the contract and was not a result of neglect of a legal duty, if enforcement of the contract as made would be unconscionable, and if the other party can be replaced to status quo.”


– An honest clerical error in the bid and defendant’s subsequent prompt recession he was not obliged to execute the contract
– Not all carelessness is a neglect for legal duty
– Mutually intended provision of the contract
o District KNEW that it needed plumbing installed, and there is no doubt that Kastorff left out the plumbing amount
o Omission of the plumbing was unintended by Kastorff and unexpected by the board of the school district.


– Judgment in favor of the school district is reversed.


– Difference between the lower courts ruling and the supreme courts ruling is that the supreme court deemed the amount to be material to the total cost and it was implied that plumbing would be of a material effect to the overall re-construction of the building

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