Thursday, February 10, 2011

Legal Problem From a Parallel Universe

In 2003, after retiring from the practice of law, Cassie Berman moves to Kentucky and buys a tract of land. As a hobby, she starts to purchase and breed thoroughbred racehorses. In 2005, however, Bright Flight, one of her horses, upsets the field and wins the prestigious Tanglewood Derby. Soon Cassie finds herself the proprietor of a thriving business. 
In April 2009, Cassie decides to sell Bright Flight. This is a difficult decision for Cassie—she has formed a sentimental attachment to the horse—but it makes business sense. Bright Flight's racing days are over, and his value as a breeding horse is dwindling as he ages.

On June 1, 2009, Cassie takes out an advertisement in the Racing Times, a widely-read trade periodical. It reads: "For sale. Bright Flight, winner of Tanglewood Derby. $100,000 cash. Looking for good home for beloved horse."

On June 3, 2009, Cassie receives a telegram from Mark Ibold, a horse breeder in Utah. It states: "Saw your ad in Times. I accept. Will wire money upon your confirmation."

On June 19, 2009, Cassie goes to dinner for the first time with Steve West. Steve, like Cassie, is a recently-divorced horse breeder. They'd met through an Internet dating service. After both of them have nearly finished a bottle of wine, Steve says, "Maybe this is just a flimsy excuse to see you again, but why don't I buy Bright Flight from you? The only snag is that I need some time to see whether I can raise the money."

Steve quickly drafts the following on the back of a page he tears from his datebook: "For valuable consideration, I, Cassie Berman, hereby grant to Steve West the option to purchase Bright Flight for $100,000 cash for 120 days." Cassie then suggests (and Steve agrees) that he adds the following phrase: "If this offer is accepted, the horse will be warranted sound as of the date of delivery, but there is no guarantee about his ability to breed." Both Cassie and Steve sign at the bottom.

Steve and Cassie begin dating. In August, however, they have a nasty breakup. Later than month, Cassie sells Bright Flight to Gary Young, a local rancher, for $200,000. The Racing Times runs a front-page story on the deal.

In mid-September, Steve shows up at Cassie's ranch with $100,000 in cash. "I'm here to exercise my option and buy Bright Flight," he says.

Discuss all relevant legal issues.