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19.6 Summary and Exercises

Summary

As with most of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), the parties may specify the terms of their performance. Only if they fail to do so does Article 2 (and 2A) provide the terms for them. The seller’s duty is to make a timely delivery of conforming goods. In the absence of agreement, the time for delivery is a reasonable one, and the place of delivery is the seller’s place of business. All goods must be tendered in a single delivery, unless circumstances permit either party the right to make or demand delivery in lots.

If the seller ships nonconforming goods but has time to meet his contractual obligations or if he reasonably believed the goods would be suitable, he may notify the buyer of his intention to cure, and if he does so in a timely manner the buyer must pay.

The buyer’s general obligation is to inspect, accept, and pay. If an inspection reveals that the goods are nonconforming, the buyer may reject them; if he has accepted because defects were latent or because he received assurances that the defects would be cured, and they are not, the buyer may revoke his acceptance. He then has some duties concerning the goods in his possession. The buyer must pay for any conforming goods; payment may be in any manner consistent with current business customs. Payment is due at the time and place at which the buyer will ultimately receive the goods.

The general policy of the UCC is to put an aggrieved party in as good a position as she would have been had the other party fully performed. The parties may specify or limit certain remedies, but they may not eliminate all remedies for a breach. However, if circumstances make an agreed-on remedy inadequate, then the UCC’s other remedies apply; parties may not unconscionably limit consequential damages; they may agree to liquidated damages, but not to unreasonable penalties.

In general, the seller may pursue the following remedies: withhold further delivery, stop delivery, identify to the contract goods in her possession, resell the goods, recover damages or the price, or cancel the contract. In addition, when it becomes apparent that the buyer is insolvent, the seller may, within certain time periods, refuse to deliver the remaining goods or reclaim goods already delivered.

The buyer, in general, has remedies. For goods not yet received, she may cancel the contract; recover the price paid; cover the goods and recover damages for the difference in price; or recover the specific goods if they are unique or in “other proper circumstances.” For goods received and accepted, the buyer may recover ordinary damages for losses that stem from the breach and consequential damages if the seller knew of the buyer’s particular needs and the buyer could not reasonably cover.

The UCC provides some excuses for nonperformance: casualty of the goods, through no fault of either party; the nonhappening of presupposed conditions that were a basic assumption of the contract; substituted performance if the agreed-on methods of performance become impracticable; right to adequate assurances of performance when reasonable grounds for insecurity of performance arise; anticipatory repudiation and resort to any remedy, before time for performance is due, is allowed if either party indicates an unwillingness to perform.

Exercises

  1. Anne contracted to sell one hundred cans of yellow tennis balls to Chris, with a delivery to be made by June 15.

    1. On June 8, Anne delivered one hundred cans of white tennis balls, which were rejected by Chris. What course of action would you recommend for Anne, and why?
    2. Assume Ann had delivered the one hundred cans of white balls on June 15; these were rejected by Chris. Under what circumstances might Anne be allowed additional time to perform the contract?
    3. If the contract did not specify delivery, when must Anne deliver the tennis balls?
    1. When Anne delivers the tennis balls, does Chris have a right to inspect them? If Chris accepts the white tennis balls, may the acceptance be revoked?
    2. Assume Chris decided she could use twenty-five cans of the white balls. Could she accept twenty-five cans and reject the rest?
    3. Suppose Anne delivered white tennis balls because a fire at her warehouse destroyed her entire stock of yellow balls. Does the fire discharge Anne’s contractual duties?
    4. If Chris rejected the white tennis balls and Anne refused to deliver yellow ones, may Chris recover damages? If so, how would they be calculated?
  2. In 1961, Dorothy and John Wilson purchased a painting from Hammer Galleries titled Femme Debout. It cost $11,000 (about $78,000 in 2010 dollars) and came with this promise: “The authenticity of this picture is guaranteed.” In 1984, an expert deemed the painting a fake. The district court held that the Wilsons’ suit for breach of warranty, filed in February 1987—twenty-one years after its purchase—was barred by the UCC’s four-year statute of limitations. The Wilsons argued, however, that the Code’s exception to the four-year rule applied:Uniform Commercial Code, Section 2-725(2). “A breach of warranty occurs when tender of delivery is made, except where a warranty explicitly extends to future performance and discovery must await the time of such performance the cause of action accrues when the breach is or should have been discovered.”

    They said the painting “performed” by being an authentic Vuillard—a French artist—and that the warranty of authenticity not only guaranteed the present “being” of the painting but also extended, as required by 2-725(2), to the future existence as a Vuillard. Therefore, they contended, explicit words warranting future performance would be superfluous: a warranty that promises authenticity “now and at all times in the future” would be redundant. How should the court rule?

  3. Speedi Lubrication Centers Inc. and Atlas Match Corp. entered into a contract that provided for Speedi to buy 400,000 advertising matchbooks from Atlas, to be paid for within thirty days of delivery of each shipment. Orders for such matches required artwork, artists’ commissions, and printing plates. Atlas sent twenty-two cases of matches to Speedi with an invoice showing $2,100 owed. Almost ninety days later, Speedi sent Atlas a check for $1,000, received the same day Atlas sent Speedi a letter declaring Speedi to be in material breach of the contract. A second check for $1,100 was later received; it bounced but was later replaced by a cashier’s check. The contract provided that an untimely payment was a breach, and it included these provisions related to liquidated damages:

    Atlas shall have the right to recover from Purchaser the price of all matchbooks and packaging delivered and/or identified to this agreement at the time of Purchaser’s breach hereof and shall be additionally entitled to recover fifty percent (50%) of the contract price of matchbooks and/or packaging ordered hereby, but not delivered or identified to this Agreement at the time of Purchaser’s breach. Purchaser agrees that the percentage as specified hereinabove…will be reasonable and just compensation for such breach, and Purchaser hereby promises to pay such sum as liquidated damages, not as penalty in the event of any such breach.

    On appeal, Speedi complained that the liquidated damages clause was a penalty. Is the matter settled by the contract saying the liquidated damages are reasonable? On what criteria would a court determine whether liquidated damages are reasonable?

  4. Mrs. Kaiden made a $5,000 deposit on the purchase of new 1973 Rolls-Royce automobile. Lee Oldsmobile, the seller, confirmed the request by transmitting a regular order form, which Mrs. Kaiden signed and returned. The price was $29,500.00 [about $150,000 in 2010 dollars]. Some of the correspondence and a notation on Mrs. Kaiden’s check indicated that delivery was expected in November. The order form, however, specified no delivery date. Further, it contained a disclaimer of liability for delay in delivery beyond the dealer’s control, and it provided that the dealer had the right, upon failure of the purchaser to accept delivery, to retain as liquidated damages any cash deposit made. On November 21, 1973, Mrs. Kaiden notified Lee by telephone that she had purchased another Rolls-Royce elsewhere. She told the salesman to cancel her order. On November 29, Lee Oldsmobile notified Mrs. Kaiden that the car was ready for delivery. She refused delivery and demanded the return of her deposit. The dealer refused. In January 1974, the dealer—without notice to the Kaidens—sold the Rolls-Royce to another purchaser for $26,495. Mrs. Kaiden sued Lee Oldsmobile for the $5,000 deposit. The dealer carefully itemized its losses on the Kaiden deal—$5080.07. On what basis did the court dismiss the liquidated damages clause? What is the consequence of the dealer’s failure to give notice of the private sale under UCC, Section 2-706(3)?
  5. Hemming saw an advertisement for a Cadillac convertible once owned by the famous early rock ’n’ roll singer Elvis Presley. He contracted to buy it from Whitney for $350,000 and sent Whitney $10,000 as a deposit. But, after some delay, Whitney returned the $10,000 and informed Hemming that the car had been sold to another purchaser. What remedy does Hemming have?
  6. Murrey manufactured and sold pool tables. He was approached by Madsen, who had an idea for a kind of electronic pool table that would light up and make sounds like a pinball machine. Madsen made a $70,000 deposit on an order for one hundred tables but then encountered difficulties and notified Murrey that he would be unable to accept delivery of the tables. Murrey broke the tables up, salvaging materials worth about $15,000 and using the rest for firewood. The evidence was that the tables, if completed by Murrey, could have been sold for $45,000 as regular pool tables. Madsen gets his deposit back less expenses incurred by Murrey. But what principle affects Murrey’s measure of damages, his right to claim expenses incurred?
  7. In January 1992, Joseph Perna bought an eleven-year-old Oldsmobile at a New York City police auction sale for $1,800 plus towing fees. It had been impounded by the police for nonpayment of parking tickets. The bill of sale from the police to Perna contained this language: “subject to the terms and conditions of any and all chattel mortgages, rental agreements, liens, conditional bills of sale, and encumbrances that may be on the motor vehicle of the [its original owner].” About a year later Perna sold the car to a coworker, Elio Marino, for $1,200. Marino repaired and improved the car by replacing the radiator, a gasket, and door locks. Ten months after his father bought the car, Marino’s son was stopped by police and arrested for driving a stolen vehicle; Mario paid $600 to a lawyer to get that matter resolved, and he never got the car back from the police. Is Perna liable to Marino for the value of the car? Is Perna liable for the consequential damages—the attorney’s fees? The relevant UCC sections are 2-312(2) and 2-714.
  8. William Stem bought a used BMW from Gary Braden for $6,600 on Braden’s assertion that as far as he knew the car had not been wrecked and it was in good condition. Less than a week later Stem discovered a disconnected plug; when connected the oil-sensor warning light glowed. Mechanics informed Stem that the car was made up of the front end of a 1979 BMW and the rear end of a 1975 BMW, and the front half had 100,000 more miles on it than Stem thought. Six weeks after he purchased the car, Stem wrote Braden a letter that he refused the car and intended to rescind the sale. Braden did not accept return of the car or refund the money, and Braden continued to drive it for seven months and nearly 9,000 miles before suing. He had no other car and needed to transport his child. These issues were before the Alabama Supreme Court, construing UCC, Section 2-608: did Stem’s use of the car, notwithstanding his letter of rescission, constitute such use of it as to be an acceptance? And if not, does Stem owe Braden anything for its use?
  9. Donnelly ordered a leather motorcycle jacket from Leathers Inc. The jacket was specially designed according to Donnelly’s instructions: it had a unique collar, various chromed studs throughout, and buckles, and he required an unusually large size. The coat cost $6,000. Donnelly paid $1,200 as a deposit, but after production was nearly complete, he telephoned Leathers Inc. and repudiated the contract. What should Leathers do now?

Self-Test Questions

  1. In the absence of agreement, the place of delivery is

    1. the buyer’s place of business
    2. the seller’s place of business
    3. either the buyer’s place of business or the buyer’s residence
    4. any of the above
  2. The UCC’s statute of limitations is

    1. two years
    2. three years
    3. four years
    4. none of the above
  3. Under the UCC, if the buyer breaches, the seller can

    1. withhold further delivery
    2. resell the goods still in the seller’s possession
    3. recover damages
    4. do all of the above
  4. If the seller breaches, the buyer can generally

    1. recover the goods, even when the goods have not been identified to the contract and the seller is not insolvent
    2. purchase substitute goods and recover their cost
    3. purchase substitute goods and recover the difference between their cost and the contract price
    4. recover punitive damages
  5. Following a seller’s breach, the buyer can recover the price paid

    1. if the buyer cancels the contract
    2. only for goods the buyer has accepted
    3. for all the goods the buyer was to have received, whether or not they were accepted
    4. under none of the above conditions

Self-Test Answers

  1. b
  2. c
  3. d
  4. c
  5. d