ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Contracts Limerick of the Week: Sherwood v. Walker

CalfMy discovery of Otto Stockmeyer's little essay on Sherwood v. Walker inspired me to try my hand at a Sherwood Limerick. Alas, the anxiety of influence is strong here. I tread on paths well worn by other poets.

Sherwood v. Walker is a popular vehicle for introducing students to the doctrine of mutual mistake. The case involves a contract for the sale of a cow, Rose 2d of Aberlone. Sherwood buys Rose cheap because both parties believe she is barren (or at least that's what the case says). In fact, she is fertile and, indeed, before long she is with calf. The court finds that the mistake went to one of Rose's essential features and therefore there was no enforceable contract. A barren cow is more akin to an ox than it is to a fertile cow, said the court. The object of the proposed bargain, a barren cow, did not exist. Nifty reasoning.

BeefWith all that has been written about Rose 2d of Aberlone, it is a shame that we have no image of her. Above, on the left, I have tried to represent what Rose 2d might have looked like after she proved for good and all that she was no barren cow. And, to our left, we have an image of how Rose might have looked had she not proven her fertility.

It is on this tension, between mother and steak, that my Limerick focuses:

Sherwood v. Walker

Because of a mutual mistake,
Poor Rose was thought of as steak.
But the court did discover
Her essence was "lover"
So Sherwood made do with milk shake.

[Jeremy Telman]

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