ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Obligation to Return the Cash?

A New Haven rabbi purchased a desk on Craigslist for under $200.  When the desk couldn't fit through the doorway, he and his wife took it apart.  There was $98k in cash in a bag behind one of the drawers.  As one article explains:

"Right away my wife and I sort of looked at each other and said we can't keep this money."

They picked up the phone and called the original owner. They recorded the call on cellphone video.

"I saw there was a bag back there and through the bag I saw one 100 dollar bill and I', like, Oh my gosh there's money in there'. And i picked it up and this is pretty heavy. And I brought it over to the table and sort of counted it up and was like 'oh my gosh'."

The original owner was speechless. "Oh my gosh, because I... oh my God," she said.

The former owner had stuffed her inheritance in the desk and forgot where she put the money.

My sense is that the good rabbi did the right thing.  But was he legally obligated to return the cash?  He certainly received more than he bargained for, but seller beware?  Or, would the seller be able to claim mutual mistake to rescind the contract?

[Meredith R. Miller]

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