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Wucherpfennig v. Dooley

North Dakota Supreme Court
351 N.W.2d 443 (1984)


Facts

Fred and Harriet Wucherpfennig devised the family farm to their three children in undivided interests, with the largest going to their son, Donald Wucherpfennig (plaintiff). During probate of the estate, Donald’s sister Elizabeth Dooley (defendant) sent the probate attorney a letter stating, “Now if Don wants to buy my share of the real estate, I will sell it to him for $200 an acre, provided it is a cash deal [and] handled promptly.” The attorney wrote back stating “Donald has made arrangements with the Federal Land Bank to secure funds to purchase your interest in the estate farmland and we are therefore ready to proceed with this transaction. Please let me know the exact dollar amount that you expect to receive for your interest in the land. I must know also if you are willing to sign the agreement relating to Special Use Valuation. Please let me hear from you regarding these matters.” But instead of responding with a dollar amount, Elizabeth sent a letter revoking her offer. Donald sued for specific performance or partition, arguing that the probate attorney’s letter constituted acceptance of Elizabeth’s offer, creating a contract to purchase Elizabeth’s share at $200 an acre. Donald claimed that the acceptance letter did not contain a final number because at $200 per acre it would have been $37,200—an amount he was sure Elizabeth would not accept. The trial court found no valid acceptance of Elizabeth’s offer creating a contract and dismissed the claim for specific performance. Donald appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sand, J.)

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