Logourl black

Smith v. Zimbalist

California Court of Appeal, Second District
38 P.2d 170 (1934)


Eighty-six-year-old George Smith (plaintiff) was a collector of rare violins. Efrem Zimbalist (defendant), an acclaimed violinist, also collected rare violins. At the urging of an unrelated third party, Zimbalist contacted Smith to see his violins. Upon inspecting them, he noted that one was a Stradivarius and another a Guarnerius and asked what Smith would charge to sell those two. Smith ordinarily did not sell his violins but agreed to sell those selected by Zimbalist for $8,000. Zimbalist paid $2,000 down and promised to pay the balance in monthly installments of $1,000. These terms, as well as the identity of the violins as a Stradivarius and Guarnerius, were set forth in both a written memorandum of sale and a bill of sale. Both parties honestly believed that the violins were genuine but as it turned out, they were copies not worth more than $300. When Zimbalist did not pay the balance of the $8,000 charge, Smith sued. The trial court issued a judgment in favor of Zimbalist on the basis of mutual mistake. Smith appealed.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.


The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (Houser, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Here's why 90,000 law students rely on our case briefs:

  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners not other law students.
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet.
  • 12,195 briefs - keyed to 164 casebooks.
  • Uniform format for every case brief.
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language.
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions.
  • Ability to tag case briefs in an outlining tool.
  • Top-notch customer support.
Start Your Free Trial Now