White v. Corlies & Tift (1895)

Procedural History

–          White (P) sued Tift and won.

–          It was appealed and was affirmed in the 1st judicial district

–          Judgment reversed in favor of defendant and new trial needed


–          D told P about specificatons for fitting up a suite and requested to make an estimate.

–          Sept 28th, P left estimate with D and inform P on their decisions.

–          On same day, D changed the there specs, and on the same day the P assented to by signing the changing of the specs.

–          Sept, 29th, the D’s bookkeeper wrote, “upon agreement to finish up 57 Broadway in two weeks from date. Begin at once…No reply by the P to this note…The next day the D, countermanded the contract because of the P’s no reply.

–          P, prior to the countermanded notice and on receipt of the Sept. 29th bookkeeper letter, the P commenced a performance by purchasing lumber and beginning to work.

–          After receiving countermand, the P brought action for the breach.


–          Was it the duty of the contractor to give notice of assent on the second letter?


–          Yes.


–          We understand the rule to be, that where an offer is made by one party to another when they are not together, the acceptance of it by that other must be manifested by some appropriate act.


–          Acceptance of an offer must be communicated by a mouth (verbal or written)…Action upon a request is not enough if the offeree did not know of the acceptance.

–          He did not act which indicated an acceptance of it to the defendants.

  • He purchased stuff for work, but was fit for any other like work…he was a carpenter…

–          There was NOTHING communicated to the defendants…they had no clue if he was going to accept…The court can’t simply “imply” what someone was doing or thinking…


–          Reversed and remanded for judgment.

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