Legality of SDMB money offer

In this post, furt made me the following offer:

which I then proceeded to do in a post below that.

Now, I don’t intend to try and enforce that offer, but what would my legal standing be if I did (the issue of whether furt accepts my proof or not being left to one side for the moment)? We didn’t shake hands on the bet or draw up any “contract” and I would guess that he (she?) was not being completely serious when he “said” it, but does anyone have a sensible opinion on what the legal system would think?


Not intenced as legal advice, just for fun:

First, would a reasonable person think he was seriously making an offer? Probably not, since you didn’t think he was serious.

But if he was, or a reasonable person would think he was, he’s made a unilateral contract which he can’t revoke for until a reasobale time for you to perform has elapsed once you’ve begun performance. The fact you never verbally accepted is irrelavant; he didn’t want a promise that you would produce the article, he wanted you to do it.

That being said, it has to be determined: did you perform, i.e. did you produce an article by a serious biblical scholar that supports your theory? If a fact finder (judge or jury)says yes, you’ve got $1000 coming.

That’s why I stick with “If you do x i’ll eat my hat”.

I would think that if this was going to be decided in court, at the very least, you’d have to establish that he actually made the deal (as opposed to someone else using his account). That’s pretty darned hard.

On a slightly different but closely related subject, I wonder what the law says about entering into contracts with people whose identity you don’t know (and whom you haven’t met). The impracticality of enforcing such contracts makes me wonder if the law considers them valid at all.

If it didn’t, then these sites would be out of business…

Not to mention:

A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

What is a “serious biblical scholar?” One who has no sense of humour? The courts would prefer to hear from an expert. Judges hate imprecise definitions.

Who is furt? I don’t know. Neither do you. If you do find him, he can claim that his 14 year old sister made the post, not him. He can claim he was drunk, under the influence of drugs, or was merely joking. He can pay you in Guyanese dollars, as US funds were not specified. You can buy yourself a cup of coffee and a pair of donuts with a thousand Guyanese.

In short, this case could never make it to the courts.

And if I’m wrong, you can sue me. :slight_smile:

Actually, all of those are questions of fact, to be decided by a court.

This case could easily make it to court. Winning it, I admit, does present some serious problems of proof. But getting there and winning once you get there are two different things. But suit can be filed against John Doe, AKA furt. And the Chicago Reader’s records can be subpoenaed to get his registration information, and his ISP can be tracked down, and his identity discovered – all, by the way, costing a fair chunk of change. But it can be done.

  • Rick

What jjimm and Bricker said. grimpixie can at least allege the elements of a contract (offer, acceptance, and consideration) enough to make a “prima facie” case, good enough to get to court on.

Some contracts absoultely have to be in writing, contain all essential terms and be signed, according to a doctrine called “the Statute of Frauds”. These include a contact for land, a sale of goods for $5oo or more, contracts that by their terms can’t be performed within a year, contracts made in consideration of marriage, and conrtacts where one party agrees to act as a surety for another.

I’m not sure if furt’s post on a message board would constitute a signed writing, but absent contrary state law it wouldn’t matter. Except in certain situations like those above, nothing is technically wrong with an oral contract except that it’s much, much more difficult to prove.

Like Bricker said, does she have a case? Sure. Does she have a good case? Probably not.

And, of course, the minute the Reader gets wind of a court case involving this board, some real concerns are going to get voiced by the Reader’s management, through Ed Zotti and the volunteer Administrators. Following which, the entire board membership, feeling that you have put at risk something of value and pleasure to us, will immediately head for British Columbia bearing blunt and sharp instruments. :wink:

[sub]Disclaimer: The above post was intended as a “Well, if you’re going to take things to extremes, let’s really go for extremes” sort of hypothetical exercise, and is not to be construed as in any way offering violence or a threat of same to grimpixie or any other poster, nor in encouraging any poster by thought word or deed to so offer or threaten to offer. All rights reserved; void where prohibited by law. The contents of this post in no way resemble any plausible reality.[/sub]

Ah, but note that a court would not consider an order placed at a contract, since it’s open to dispute as to whether you or someone else placed the order with your credit card.

If you choose to dispute it, the fact that your credit card number was entered and “submit” was clicked is not good enough to bind you. Of course, if it can be proven that you’re disputing fraudulently, you’re in hot water, but the specific act of submitting the web form doesn’t actually carry much weight.