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Ayer v. Western Union Telegraph Co.

Maine Supreme Judicial Court
10 A. 495 (1887)


Ayer (plaintiff) is a lumber dealer in Bangor, Maine. Western Union Telegraph Co. (Western Union) (defendant) transmits telegraphs between Bangor and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, among other locations. Ayer wanted to sell laths to another merchant in Philadelphia. Ayer delivered a message to Western Union to be sent via telegraph to Ayer’s contact in Philadelphia. Ayer’s message offered to sell laths at a price of “two ten net cash.” Western Union mistakenly sent a message to Philadelphia stating that Ayer would sell laths at a price of “two net cash.” The Philadelphia contact accepted Ayer’s offer. Ayer later discovered the mistake, but still sent the laths to Philadelphia at a price of “two net cash.” Ayer brought suit against Western Union for the difference between the price received and the market price of the laths. Western Union argued that it was only liable for the price Ayer paid for the telegram.

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Holding and Reasoning (Emery, J.)

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