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Patterson v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co.

District of Columbia Court of Appeals
277 A.2d 111 (1971)


Bernice Patterson (defendant) bought three items from the Walker-Thomas Furniture Company (Walker-Thomas) (plaintiff) under installment contracts. First, Patterson bought a television for roughly $300. The installment contract for the television said Patterson would pay Walker-Thomas $20 a month. Second, Patterson bought a dining-room set for about $100. This increased Patterson’s monthly payments to $24. Finally, Patterson bought wedding rings for almost $160, raising her monthly payments to $25. Patterson defaulted on her monthly payments after paying Walker-Thomas nearly $250 toward the approximate $600 Patterson owed for all three items. Walker-Thomas sued Patterson to recover the remaining balance. Patterson argued that she had already paid more than the fair value of the items. Patterson also raised the defense of unconscionability, arguing that Walker-Thomas’s prices were so unreasonably high that the installment contracts were unconscionable and, therefore, unenforceable under the Uniform Commercial Code. During the case, Patterson sought discovery information about Walker-Thomas’s pricing policies. Walker-Thomas objected, and Patterson asked the trial court to force Walker-Thomas to turn over the information. But the trial court would not force Walker-Thomas to provide the requested information. Instead, the trial court ruled that the information was irrelevant because the District of Columbia did not recognize a contractual defense of unconscionability based on allegations of overpricing. Because Patterson’s only defense was that the goods were unconscionably overpriced, the trial court then decided the entire case in favor of Walker-Thomas. Patterson appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kelly, J.)

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