ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Friday, January 14, 2011

A New Contracts Defense: Killer Bees

In my contracts class, we’ve just begun our study of standard contracts defenses.  Interestingly, via the Consumerist, here's a very non-standard attempt to get out of a contract, based on an alleged infestation of an RV by Killer Bees. 

Having bid on an auction for an RV that was posted on eBay, the buyer sent in a deposit quickly (in part because it was such a good deal).  In response, this was the email that the buyer allegedly received from the auto dealership:

We are devastated with our discovery this morning of a swarm of Africanized killer bees in the 2007 Sandpiper 325RG 5th wheel that you have a deposit on. We have used multiple poisons in an attempt eradicate them. We have vacuumed up the bees that covered the floors, cabinets, and furniture. We tried to clean the traces of honey on the countertops and cabinet tops as completely as possible. This is one of the terrible acts of Mother Nature we have in Arizona. As best we can determine, the bees entered from the door that had been left opened yesterday morning. The interior of this trailer does have a strong chemical odor from the poison and is TOXIC. Our insurance regulations prohibit us from selling this 5th wheel at this time.  Due to these circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to proceed with the sale of this 2007 Sandpiper 325RG 5th wheel. This vehicle is unsafe for occupancy or use. We are therefore refunding your deposit at this time. We have attached several photos. Watch EBay for other close-outs we will be posting soon.

After consulting with an attorney, the buyer sent an email saying that he would still take possession of the vehicle despite the problems.  According to the buyer, the dealership then changed tactics, then claiming that they had no idea about the bees, that there was no contract, and that the

Assuming Buyer’s version is believed, the conflicting versions begin to look like fraud, rather than the establishment of a frustration of purpose (by bee) defense.

[Miriam Cherry/Hat Tip: Megan Thacker]

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