Superior Court of Fresno County

Procedural Posture: Corporate Lawyer San Diego

Appellant buyer sought review of the decision of the Superior Court of Fresno County (California), which entered judgment in favor of the buyer on its fifth cause of action against respondent sellers for money had and received. The buyer challenged the trial court’s ruling on its first four causes of action based upon an alleged breach of the parties’ contract to the extent that the trial court found that the buyer breached the contract.

Overview

Under the terms of the parties’ contract, the buyer was to pay a fixed amount per pound less than the price quoted for seeded raisins. When the buyer placed an order pursuant to the parties’ contract, the last price quoted to the general trade by the sellers was nine cents per pound for a 15-ounce seeded carton pack. However, the manager of the sellers’ sales administration division sent a night telegram to four of its 17 offices raising the price in those territories to 11 cents. The court found that the parties’ contract was to be construed to give the true intent of the parties and that the words in the contract were to be given their common and accepted meaning. The common meaning of “quoted” was to name or give the current market price, and “market price” or “market value” meant the current price at which goods were freely offered in the market to the entire world. The court concluded that the buyer did not breach the parties’ contract upon refusing to purchase the seeded raisins at 11 cents per pound. The sellers breached the contract by refusing to sell the buyer raisins at the price quoted in the general market rather than at the price quoted in a few particular localities.

Outcome

The court reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded, with direction to the trial court to find the buyer’s damages and to enter judgment accordingly. A subsequent petition for rehearing was denied by the District Court of Appeal, and the sellers’ petition to have the cause heard in the Supreme Court was denied.

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