Mattuschek (defendant) owned a ranch and contracted with E. F. Carnell to act as his agent for selling the ranch. Mattuschek executed a written instrument assigning Carnell the exclusive right to sell the property. Carnell found a willing purchaser in Ward (plaintiff). Ward issued a down payment check to Carnell and executed a written instrument stating that he agreed to purchase the ranch in accordance with the terms of the agreement between Carnell and Mattuschek. Mattuschek refused to sell the property to Ward. Ward filed suit seeking specific performance and damages. The trial court ruled in favor of Mattuschek on the grounds that Ward could not produce a written instrument signed by Mattuschek that satisfied the statute of frauds. Ward appealed.