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Bethany Pharmacal Co. v. QVC, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
241 F.3d 854 (2001)


Facts

QVC, Inc. (defendant) held trade shows to select vendors to sell products on QVC broadcasts. QVC also selected alternate vendors, in the event that a scheduled vendor could not participate in a broadcast. QVC contracted with Roberta Janis, an employee of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, to assist in selecting vendors. QVC gave Janis solicitations to send to vendors, which included an information sheet with a disclaimer that any product sales from the vendor to QVC would be governed by a QVC purchase order. The purchase order would be the only valid contract between QVC and the vendor. Bethany Pharmacal Co. (Bethany) (plaintiff) received a solicitation packet with the disclaimer and attended the trade show. After the trade show, Janis sent letters to the selected vendors and alternates on Department of Commerce letterhead. Janis directed her subordinates to attach a post-it note with the word “alternate” to the letters sent to alternate vendors. Bethany was selected as an alternate, but the letter Bethany received did not include a post-it note. Based on the letter, Bethany purchased $100,000 in skin-care products to sell on the QVC broadcast. When QVC learned of Janis’s mistake, QVC notified Bethany but did not change Bethany’s status from alternate to participant. Bethany filed a breach of contract suit against QVC. The court granted QVC’s motion for summary judgment and found that Janis was not an agent of QVC. Bethany appealed the award of summary judgment in favor of QVC.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ripple, J.)

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