Lucy v. Zehmer
Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia
84 S.E.2d 516 (Va. 1954)
1.) Whether or not the performance of a contract of sale can be based on a person’s mental as manifested by their outward actions or deeds
Analyzing the actions of the parties before and after the alleged execution of the contract of sale, it was rule by the court that if a person’s outward manifestations when interpreted by other people by reasonable standards conveys a certain intent it can be judged as the real yet unexpressed state of that person’s mind.
The facts of the case show that the agreement was made on around the time that Lucy and Zehmer were drinking. Although the witnesses claim that they had a few drinks, there are certain pieces of evidence that show that the transaction that transpired was in the nature of a serious business deal. The fact that almost 30 to 40 minutes was spent discussing the details of the transaction and that there was no clear proof of intoxication led the court to rule that there was no fraud or misrepresentation that would lead to inequitable transactions.
In ruling in favor of Lucy, the court pointed out that the evidence shows that there was a clear outward manifestation of intent to consummate the contract of sale. Even assuming that there was a certain level of intoxication shown by the parties such was not enough to cloud the judgment of the parties. The alleged impairment was not severe enough as to vitiate consent and provide a ground for nullifying the contract. As held in the previous case of First Nat. Bank v. Roanoke Oil Co., 169 Va. 99, 114, 192 S.E. 764, 770, the courts examine the outward manifestations of parties rather than any secret and unexpressed intention.