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DF Activities Corporation v. Brown

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
851 F.2d 920 (1988)


Facts

DF Activities Corporation (DF) (plaintiff) is led by an enthusiast of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Dorothy Brown (defendant) lived in a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and owned a chair also designed by Wright. DF instructed its art director, Ann Briggs, to negotiate with Brown to convince her to sell the chair to DF. Briggs alleges that on November 26th, Brown agreed to sell the chair to DF for $60,000, payable in two installments. Brown denies ever making this agreement. On December 3rd, Briggs sent a letter to Brown confirming the agreement to sell the chair, and followed this with a check for $30,000. Brown returned the check and the letter, and wrote on the letter that she never agreed to a contract and had made “other arrangements” for the chair. Brown later sold the chair for $198,000. DF brought suit against Brown in United States district court, seeking the difference between the price at which the chair was sold and the contract price of $60,000. Brown sought to dismiss the suit as barred by the statute of frauds for the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Brown also submitted a sworn affidavit saying that she never agreed to sell the chair to DF or Briggs, and denying any recollection of a conversation with Briggs on November 26th. The district judge granted Brown’s motion to dismiss, and DF appealed. On appeal, DF argued that although the UCC statute of frauds requires contracts for the sale of goods priced over $500 to be in writing, the alleged oral contract between Brown and Briggs should be enforceable if DF can force Brown to admit to the existence of the contract in a judicial pleading, testimony, or otherwise in court. To accomplish this, DF requests the opportunity to complete additional discovery and depose Brown.

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