Over the last several years, Contractor has repeatedly hired Tiler as a subcontractor to resurface bathrooms and kitchens. Because of this working history, Contractor no longer invites bids from other subcontractors who perform tiling work. Instead, Contractor merely sends an email notifying Tiler of any new jobs, giving Tiler the first chance at the work. On the last six jobs, Tiler has not responded to Contractor’s email, and has instead simply started working on the date specified in the email.
Contractor sent the following email to Tiler on June 1:
I have another job for you: a three-bedroom house at 120 Main Street. Owner wants grayhexagon tile in the master shower, which is about 96 square feet. But we need to demolish existing older tile first. Would like you to start work on June 15, getting paid your usual rates? See you 6/15 if this works for you.
Tiler did not respond to the email, but arrived at the designated house on June 15 to start work. One of Contractor’s employees let Tiler into the house and showed her to the bathroom, where Tiler began removing the existing tile. About three hours into the job, however, another tiling subcontractor arrived at the house and told Tiler that he had signed an agreement with Contractor to perform the tiling work on the master shower.
Confused, Tiler called Contractor, who told Tiler that because she had not responded to the June 1 email, Contractor assumed she was uninterested in the job. When Tiler told Contractor that she had already begun work, he angrily said, “Well, that’s not my fault! You need to leave and let the subcontractor I actually hired get to work!” Tiler again objected, but Contractor threatened that if Tiler did not leave the house immediately, he would have her arrested for trespassing.
Tiler left the house, and she later sued Contractor for breach of contract. The complaint requested $2,500, Tiler’s usual per-contract fee for labor, as well as $5,000, representing the cost of the requested tile, which she had not yet purchased. Contractor rejoined that there was no enforceable contract, as Tiler could not accept an offer by remaining silent and then arriving for work.
- Did Tiler accept the offer that Contractor expressed in the June 1 email, either through silence or by arriving at the house and beginning to demolish the existing tile? Explain.
- Assume that a court finds that Tiler accepted Contractor’s offer. Is the alleged contract sufficiently definite to be enforceable? Explain.
- Assume that a court finds that Tiler accepted Contractor’s offer, that the contract is enforceable, and that Contractor breached the resulting contract. Is Tiler likely to receive the requested $5,000 for the cost of the tile? Explain.