Contract Law and Getting the Benefit of Your Bargain

Oral Argument

Contract Law and Getting the Benefit of Your Bargain


First, read Jacob & Youngs, Inc. v. Kent, appearing in your text beginning (Word file attached below).


Second, assume that Jim Jones, a Massachusetts builder, contracted with Betty Smith to build a house. Betty designed the house herself and contracted with Jim to do the construction. Betty’s design that she gave to the builder called for the interior of the living room to be 20 feet long by 12 feet wide. Defendant built the living room so that the exterior dimensions were 20’ by 12’, making the interior dimensions 19’ by 11’. By the time Betty realized the discrepancy, she had already moved into the house. It was only when she starting setting up her living room with her furniture that she realized the furniture did not fit. At that point, she measured the room and discovered the problem.


Betty had already paid all but $5,000 of the $120,000 construction contract. She refused to pay the remaining $5,000. Jim Jones, the builder, then sued her for the $5,000.


At trial, Betty entered the blueprints into evidence. They clearly showed a living room with the interior dimensions of 20’ by 12’. The builder’s attorney called an expert to the stand who testified that the market value of the house was the same whether the living room was 20’ by 12’ or 19’ by 11’. At the close of the evidence, the jury found for the defendant home owner. The builder’s attorney filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), arguing that the verdict should be set aside and a judgment entered for the plaintiff in the amount remaining on the contract. The court is about to hear arguments on that motion.




Assume that, you’re representing the builder, Jim Jones – (the moving party). Then you will to argue with a defendant representing the homeowner, Betty Smith (the responding party).


You have to show your paragraph of the research of main argument first.

Secondly paragraph, you have to show you points of argument .

Last paragraph, you’ll show the points for rebuttal argument.


(Totally are three paragraphs)


In making your arguments, you can rely on the reasoning as presented in your file (is attached). However, do not be afraid to bring in other arguments to support your position.

Jacob & Youngs, Inc. v. Kent

230 N.Y. 239, 129 N.E. 889 (1921)





The plaintiff built a country residence for the defendant at a cost of upwards of $77,000, and now sues to recover a balance of $3,483.46, remaining unpaid. The work of construction ceased in June, 1914, and the defendant then began to occupy the dwelling. There was no complaint of defective performance until March, 1915. One of the specifications for the plumbing work provides that “all wrought iron pipe must be well galvanized, lap welded pipe of the grade known as ‘standard pipe’ of Reading manufacture.”

The defendant learned in March, 1915, that some of the pipe, instead of being made in Reading, was the product of other factories. The plaintiff was accordingly directed by the architect to do the work anew. The plumbing was then encased within the walls except in a few places where it had to be exposed. Obedience to the order meant more than the substitution of other pipe. It meant the demolition at great expense of substantial parts of the completed structure. The plaintiff left the work untouched, and asked for a certificate that the final payment was due. Refusal of the certificate was followed by this suit.


The evidence sustains a finding that the omission of the prescribed brand of pipe was neither fraudulent nor willful. It was the result of the oversight and inattention of the plaintiff’s subcontractor. Reading pipe is distinguished from Cohoes pipe and other brands only by the name of the manufacturer stamped upon it at intervals of between six and seven feet. Even the defendant’s architect, though he inspected the pipe upon arrival, failed to notice the discrepancy. The plaintiff tried to show that the brands installed, though made by other manufacturers, were the same in quality, in appearance, in market value and in cost as the brand stated in the contract — that they were, indeed, the same thing, though manufactured in another place. The evidence was excluded, and a verdict directed for the defendant. The Appellate Division reversed, and granted a new trial.

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