Ray v. William G. Eurice & Bros, Inc., 93 A. 2d 272 (1952)

Case Name: Ray v. William G. Eurice & Bros, Inc.
Plaintiff: Calvin T. Ray and Katherine S. J. Ray
Defendant: William G. Eurice & Bros, Inc.
Maryland Court of Appeals; 201 Md. 115, 93 A. 2d 272 (1952)


Key Facts: Ray selected William G. Eurice & Bros, Inc. as the builder of a new home on a vacant lot owned by the plaintiff. Multiple meetings occurred between the plaintiff and the defendant in which they reviewed and edited the plans to build the home. A contract was submitted by the defendant to the plaintiff; however, the plaintiff did not accept this contract and had his attorney create a new contract. This new contract was submitted to the defendant and was signed by the defendant in the presence of the plaintiff. Copies of the new contract were also signed by the defendant at the bank which was providing the loan to the plaintiff for the home. Once construction was to begin on the home, the defendant claimed to have never seen the plaintiff’s contract and would not proceed in building the house with the specifications in the current contract.

Procedural History: The plaintiff brought an action against the defendant, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, for a complete breach of a written contract to build a house. The Circuit Court ruled in favor of the defendant and the plaintiffs appealed.

Issue: Whether a breach of contract exists if one party did not intend to agree to the contract yet signed the contract and had ample opportunity and ability to understand the contract.

Holding: The Maryland Court of Appeals found that the defendant did breach the written contract.

Reasoning: The Court believed that Eurice had the capacity to understand the written contract because of his experience in building homes. Ray was not a home builder but had extreme attention to detail due to his background as an aeronautical engineer. Therefore, there was no type of fraud or duress or unfair bargaining power. Furthermore, no mutual mistake can be proven for although Eurice may not have intended to agree to the specifications, his signature (on multiple copies of the same contract) shows that he had ample opportunity to read and understand what he was agreeing to.

Judgment: The court awarded the plaintiff the cost in excess of the contract price that would be incurred by the owner in have the home built; the sum o f$5,993.40.

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