Owen v. Tunison (1932)


–          Owen (P) wanted to buy land from Tunison (D).

  1. From (P) will you sell me your land for $6,000?
  2. From (D) because of improvements would not be possible unless it was for $16,000.
  3. From (P) I accept your offer for $16,000 for cash…Please send deed.

–          4 days later the D notified the P that he did not intend to sell the lot of land

–          Plaintiff suffered loss on account of the defendant’s unjust refusal to sell, and claims damages (expectation, reliance or restitution???)

Procedural History

–          ­Supreme Court of Maine


–          Did Tunison (D) write a letter to Owen with intent to sell?


–          No.


–          “There can be no contract for the sale of property desired, no meeting of the minds of the owner and prospective purchaser, unless there was an offer or proposal of sale.  It cannot be successfully argued that the defendant made any offer or proposal of sale.”


–          The (D) did not say I “offer to sell you for $16,000.”

–          It was a “general statement” and cannot be any different than language used in advertisements in the seed business.

–          It is not an offer by which he may be bound, if accepted, by any or all the persons addressed.

–          Letter had intent for negotiations but not to sell.

–          It is clear that there was no mutual assent by the defendant.

–          Courts can’t imply that he wanted to sell the land…He clearly never mentioned the word “sell”…He just told him how much it was for.


–          Judgment for defendant


–          A contract needs to have a:

  • Good faith offer
  • Mutual assent
  • Meeting of the minds
  • Look at the language!!!
    • “It would not be possible for me to sell unless….”
    • “I will sell for $16,000
    • “Will not entertain offer for less than $16,000”?



  • Offer
    • An act whereby one person confers upon another the power to create contractual relations between them….The act of the offeror  operates to create in the offeree a power…Thereafter the voluntary act of the offeree alone will operate to create new relations called a contract.
    • Acceptance
      • An expression of will or intention. It must be an act that leads the offeree  reasonably to believe that a power to create a contract is conferred upon him.

***It is on this ground that we must exclude invitations to deal or acts of mere preliminary negotiation, and acts EVIDENTLY done in jest or without intent to create to create legal relations.***

Restatement 24

An offer is the manifestation of willingness to enter into a bargain, so made as to justify another person in understanding that his assent to that bargain is invited and will conclude it.

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