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Wisconsin Knife Works v. National Metal Crafters

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
781 F.2d 1280 (1986)



National Metal Crafters (NMC) sought to manufacture spade bit blanks for Wisconsin Knife Works (Wisconsin Knife) (plaintiff). After negotiations, Wisconsin Knife sent NMC six purchase orders. On the back of the purchase orders was language prohibiting modification of the contract unless it was made in a writing signed by Wisconsin Knife’s representative. The purchase orders had blank spaces for the dates of delivery. NMC sent written acknowledgments of the first two purchase orders and provided a list of delivery dates. NMC thereafter orally provided delivery dates for the next four purchase orders. NMC missed the delivery deadlines in October and November 1981. On January 13, 1983, Wisconsin Knife informed NMC that the contract was terminated and brought this breach of contract suit, alleging that NMC had breached the delivery provisions. NMC countered that the dates it provided were not intended to be firm deadlines and that Wisconsin Knife had orally agreed to extend them. The judge tasked the jury with deciding whether the contract had been modified and, if so, whether the modified contract had been breached. The jury found the contract had been modified and that the contract as modified had not been breached. The trial court dismissed Wisconsin Knife’s complaint.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)

Dissent (Easterbook, J.)

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