Plaintiff brewing company sued defendant

Plaintiff brewing company sued defendant

Plaintiff brewing company sued defendant distributor on an open account in the Superior Court of Butte County (California). The distributor admitted his indebtedness and cross-complained for breach of contract. The trial court entered a net judgment in the distributor’s favor and the brewing company appealed.

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Overview

The main issue before the trial court was the duration of the parties’ distribution contract. The brewing company asserted on appeal that the trial court erred in its instructions to the jury. The court held that the brewing company’s request for an instruction on the statute of frauds was sufficient to preserve that issue. The court further held that both the express and implied terms of a contract are equally terms of the agreement within the meaning of that phrase as used in the statute of frauds. Because the parties chose to submit the determination of what in fact was to have been the duration of their contract to the courts, the contract as determined in such suit by the trier of fact was the contract which they must be taken as having made. Therefore, the brewing company was entitled to have the jury instructed as requested, for if the contract did carry within it an implied agreement that it should endure for a reasonable time, and if in fact such reasonable time amounted to a period in excess of the period allowed by the statute of frauds, then the contract, being wholly oral, could not be enforced.

Outcome

The court reversed the trial court’s judgment.

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