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Earl v. Saks & Co.

Supreme Court of California
36 Cal. 2d 602, 226 P.2d 340 (1951)


A.K. Barbee and Mrs. Earl (plaintiff) went to a store owned by Saks & Company (defendant) to shop for a mink coat. The price of the coat was approximately $5,000. Barbee repeatedly told Saks that he would not pay more than $4,000 for the coat. Earl made a secret deal with Saks pursuant to which Saks would tell Barbee that he could have the coat for $4,000, but then Earl would pay Saks the difference in price. Barbee, unaware of this secret deal, agreed to buy the coat for what he thought was $4,000. Saks wrote a sales slip for that amount, although Barbee did not immediately pay that full amount. Barbee immediately gifted the coat to Earl. The next day, Earl brought the coat to Saks to be monogrammed, and paid Saks the additional $1,000 pursuant to their secret deal. Later that day, Barbee and Earl had a falling out, and Barbee rescinded his gift to Earl. Barbee told Saks to return the coat to him, seeking to rescind the sale. Earl sued Saks for conversion. Saks countersued Barbee and Earl, seeking payment of the balance of the full purchase price of the coat. The trial court ruled in favor of Saks both on Earl’s conversion claim and the store’s counterclaim.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Schauer, J.)

Dissent (Traynor, J.)

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