Phillips v. Moor – Case Brief
Phillips v. Moor, 71 Me. 78 (1880).
Facts: Moor (D) contracted to purchase hay from Phillips (P). On June 15th Moor mailed an offer to Phillips to purchase three tons of hay at $5.00 per ton and the remaining hay at $9.50 per ton. On June 20th Phillips replied that Moor could have the hay at the price in his offer but added that if you can “’see fit to pay the $10 after getting it in please feel free to do so”. Moor received the letter that evening and the hay was burned in the barn the next day. Phillips brought suit when Moor refused to pay.
Issue: When does the risk of accident vest in the buyer?
Holding and Rule: When the terms of sale are agreed upon and everything that the seller has to do with the goods is complete, the contract for sale becomes absolute without actual payment or delivery. The risk of accident vests in the buyer even if he has not paid for the goods or taken actual delivery.
The acceptance of D’s offer was absolute and unconditional. The sale of hay was complete and was not qualified by the expression of P‘s hopes for more money. D had been told that he might take it and had nothing to do but arrange to have it hauled and to appropriate it to himself without any further act on the part of the seller. This is true even when the goods are merely identified for sale from a bulk of goods destroyed.
Disposition: Judgment for P.
Notes: Risk of loss passes on identified goods once the deal is done and is not dependent on delivery. UCC 2-509 covers this issue and the risk of loss passes at different times depending on whether a party is a merchant or not.