Lucy V. Zehmer, Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia, 196 Va. 493, 84 S.E.2d 516 (1954).

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LUCY v. ZEHMER, Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia, 196 Va. 493, 84 S.E.2d 516 (1954). Facts: The plaintiff, Mr. Lucy, wanted to buy Ferguson Farm, which belonged to the defendant, Mr. Zehmer. Mr. Zehmer and Mr. Lucy had known each other for 15 - 20 years, and Mr. Lucy had been trying to buy the farm from Mr. Zehmer for the last 8. One evening, Mr. Lucy entered Mr. Zehmer’s place of business and again attempted to purchase the farm from him. This time, he made a bet that Mr. Zehmer wouldn’t sell the farm for $50,000, and Mr. Zehmer said that he would. The two men drank throughout the night and continued to discuss the sale. At one point during the evening, Mr. Lucy enticed Mr. Zehmer to sign an agreement stating that he would sell the farm to him for $50,000. Mr. Lucy then sued Mr. Zehmer compel him to sell the farm. The lower court agreed with MR. Zehmer, and Mr. Lucy appealed the decision. Issue: Does an agreement that was written and signed while both parties were inebriated constitute a binding contract? Decision: Yes.

Reason: Mr. Zehmer discussed the contract with Mr. Lucy for more than forty minutes, and also requested that Mr. Lucy change the verbiage to because the first draft was written in the singular, and also requested a place for Mrs. Zehmer to sign, which she did. The discussion included details of the sale, and Mr. Lucy retained the only copy. The court ruled in favor of Mr. Lucy because, “we must look to the outward expression of a person as manifesting his intention rather than to his secret and unexpressed intention” (text 191). In this instance, Mr. Zehmer’s outward intention was to sell Ferguson Farm to Mr. Lucy, as demonstrated by his signing the contract. Therefore, the court ruled in favor of Mr.Zehmer.
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