Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Was a contract validly formed? A "meeting of the minds" as a component of offer and acceptance as essential elements of contract-formation
PROVING FORMATION OF A BINDING CONTRACT
To prevail on a breach-of-contract claim, a plaintiff must prove (1) a valid contract existed between the plaintiff and the defendant, (2) the plaintiff tendered performance or was excused from doing so, (3) the defendant breached the terms of the contract, and (4) the plaintiff sustained damages as a result of the defendant’s breach. West v. Triple B Servs., LLP, 264 S.W.3d 440, 446 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist] 2008, no pet.).
In its motion for summary judgment, ConocoPhillips asserted the evidence conclusively negated the existence of a valid contract because the parties did not have a meeting of the minds; i.e. offer and acceptance.
Among other elements, a party must prove offer and acceptance to demonstrate existence of a valid contract. DeClaire v. G & B Mcintosh Family Ltd. P’ship, 260 S.W.3d 34, 44 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2008, no pet.); Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Lopez, 93 S.W.3d 548, 555–56 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, no pet.).
A “meeting of the minds” is “merely a mutuality subpart of the offer and acceptance elements.” Domingo v. Mitchell, 257 S.W.3d 34, 40 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2008, pet. denied). Although whether the parties intended to be bound is often a question of fact, it may be determined as a matter of law. See Foreca, S.A. v. GRD Devel. Co., 758 S.W.2d 744, 746 (Tex. 1988).
SOURCE: WTG Gas Processing, LP v. ConocoPhillips Company (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Feb. 23, 2010)(Seymore)(breach of contract and tortious-interference claims, no contract formed, meeting of the minds on material terms, statute of frauds, summary judgment affirmed)