Morrison v. Thoelke
155 So.2d 889 (Fla. App. 2 Dist. 1963)
- The Morrisons owned some
property in Florida that they were interested in selling to Thoelke.
- Thoelke mailed a contract
for the sale of the property to the Morrisons in Texas. Then the
Morrisons signed the contract and sent it back to Florida.
- After mailing the contract
back but before Thoelke received it, the Morrisons changed their mind and
called to repudiate the contract so they could sell the land to someone
- The Morrisons sued to quiet
title in order to try to prevent
Thoelke from selling the property.
- Morrison argued that a
renunciation prior to receipt of the acceptance voids the acceptance.
- Basically, acceptance is
complete only upon receipt of the
- Thoelke argued the
acceptance was effective when the letter of acceptance was put in the
- Quiet title is a property term that means that the title
to the property has some confusion to it, and they can't sell the
property or borrow on it while there is this confusion.
- The Trial Court found for the
Morrisons. Thoelke appealed.
- The Trial Court found that
that the repudiation was effective,
- The Appellate Court reversed
and found in favor of Thoelke.
- The Appellate Court found
the contract is regarded as made at the time and place that the letter of
acceptance is put into the possession of the post office.
- An acceptance is effective
upon mailing and not receipt.
- The Court found that there
must be a point in time when a contract is complete. The acceptance was
manifested at the point of depositing in the mail.
- This is known as the mailbox
- It is efficient to establish
a "bright line" hard-edged rule for the sake of efficiency.
This is satisfied by making acceptance effective at the time the envelope
goes into the mailbox.
- Every State in the US follows
the mailbox rule.
- The mailbox rule is very rigid. It is effective even if the
letter is lost in the mail!
- The mailbox rule has also been applied to telegrams and faxes.
- Remember, you can write
anything you want into a contract, including a provision that that an
acceptance is only valid when received, but you have to explicitly state
- The mailbox rule is
counterintuitive, since everything else in contract law is effective on
receipt, not on delivery.