Alex Dalton and his wife Fran live in Glascock County, Georgia, about
45 miles southwest of Augusta with a population of fewer than 4,000 people. Now in their late 60s, they recently moved from the Dalton family farm to live in Gibson, the largest town in the county. The Dalton Farm has been in the family for years; when Alex inherited it, the farm was more than 350 acres. None of their children are interested in farming or living in Gibson, and in the past five years, Alex and Fran have sold all but the farmhouse and adjacent 50 acres.
Phil Pagett and his wife Pam own and live on a farm that borders the Dalton Farm. The two couples have been friends for more than 20 years and Phil has offered to buy it from Alex many times in the past decade to increase his acreage. Several years ago, Alex told Phil that when he and Fran were ready to sell the farm, they hoped they’d be able to work out a deal so Phil and Pam could purchase the additional acreage they sought.
In late October, the Pagetts and Daltons had dinner together at the Heritage House Restaurant in Gibson. After a few drinks, Phil raised the issue again, but tried a different approach, telling Alex, “I bet you wouldn’t take $150,000 for the farm.” Alex responded, “Yes, I would too. But, you’re so miserly, you wouldn’t even offer me one-fifty.” Throughout the evening, both men continued to drink whiskey and engage in light conversation, and about 10:30, the conversation returned to the sale of the Dalton Farm for $150,000.
Eventually, Phil enticed Alex to sell the farm to the Pagetts for $150,000 cash to include the farmhouse; barn, other buildings, and all farm tools and implements, and the complete 50 acres. For more than 40 minutes, they discussed what was to be included in the sale, including a provision for the examination of title to the property. When Alex drafted a sale contract that was written in the singular, Phil asked him to rewrite it to include Fran and Pam in the sale. Alex complied, and the second draft identified Fran as a seller and Pam as a buyer, included the address for the farm, identified what was included in the sale, and specified a closing date to transfer ownership that would be no later than December 31. All four friends signed the document and celebrated the deal with another toast. At the end of the evening, Phil and Pam left with the contract and promised to contact the Daltons the next day after they talked to their realtor to arrange and handle the closing.
When Phil contacted Alex the next day, Alex said he hadn’t sold the Pagetts the Dalton Farm. Alex described the transaction “as just two doggoned drunks bluffing to see who could talk the biggest and say the most.” He claimed that the offer had been made in jest and did not create a contract.
Phil and Pam Pagett have now sued to enforce the contract and compel the Daltons to sell the family farm.
Instructions: Using the FIRAC model, analyze the legal issues raised in Pagett v Dalton.
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