Bishop v. Eaton – Case Brief
Bishop v. Eaton, 161 Mass. 496, 37 N.E. 665, 42 Am. St. Rep. 437 (1894).
Facts: Eaton (D) wrote to Bishop (P) offering to repay him if he gave Eaton’s brother Harry money. Bishop arranged a $200 loan for Harry and wrote to Eaton to inform him that he was acting as a surety. Eaton claimed that he never received the letter. When the note went into default D reassured P that he would repay him if Harry did not. P sued D when D refused to repay him. The trial court entered judgment for P and D appealed.
Issue: Under a unilateral offer, is the offeree required to inform the offeror that he has performed, if that performance would not readily come to the attention of the offeror within a reasonable time?
Holding and Rule: Yes. Under a unilateral offer, the offeree is required to inform the offeror within a reasonable time that he has performed, if that performance would not readily come to the attention of the offeror within a reasonable time.
The language relied on in this case was an offer by D to guarantee a loan to Harry. It was an offer which was to become effective as a contract upon P lending money to Harry. The promissor is then bound if notice is given within a reasonable time. See Dickinson v. Dodds.
In the present case, P seasonably mailed a letter to D informing him of the act. D was therefore bound even though he claims he never received the letter. The means of notice required must be reasonable and, if left undetermined by the offeror, is that which is reasonable under the circumstances. The court held that the letter with notice was reasonable under these circumstances. The offeror assumes the risk of non-receipt of that notice if he has not specified otherwise.
However, when the note came due the time for payment was extended and therefore D would be discharged from liability if he did not consent. A new trial is ordered on that issue.
Disposition: Remanded to determine whether D consented to the extension of time for payment.