How enforceable are verbal agreements in Mississippi?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Hattiesburg, MS

I have a female Rottweiler that I was looking to breed and I found this guy with a male Rottweiler to breed with my female and we both agreed that he would take the pick of the litter. He later then sends me a message saying he just wants the money. I did not agree to that or agree to any specific dollar amount. After a few angry messages from him I gave him what i thought would be fair considering all the food, taking out ads in the paper, and vet bills, which we have all receipts for. He has not once tried to help or lift a finger to sell or take care of the puppies.

He has sent me a message recently and said he is taking me to court for "the rest of the money." How would this play out in court and what should I be worried about when I get to court.

Thank you.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Robert A. Stumpf

    Contributor Level 19

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    Answered . Verbal agreements that are contracts are pretty much enforceable anywhere. I agree with you that in this case, he doesn't have much of a story to tell the judge or a small claims referee. If he does go so far as to sue you, answer his complaint and show up and simply tell your story.

  2. Slade H. Mclaughlin

    Contributor Level 12

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    Lawyers agree

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    Answered . When they satisfy legal requirements, "oral contracts are enforceable in Mississippi and we recognize a cause of action grounded on breach of an oral contract." R.C. Constr. Co. v. National Office Sys., Inc., 622 So. 2d 1253, 1255 (Miss. 1993).
    We have always been told to get things in writing, if possible, as this will make proving the existence of a contract much easier. Nonetheless, oral contracts are legally binding in many instances. The only legal obstacle would be in proving that an oral contract was in fact made. Therefore, the attorney must prove that his or her client did make an oral contract with the other party.
    Factors that can Determine the Validity of Oral Contracts
    Witness Corroboration
    If other people were present during the time the two parties made the oral agreement, and are willing to testify, then this can be one way to prove the existence of a verbal contract. These other witnesses must be able to prove in their testimony that they heard the terms of the agreement.
    Past Course of Conduct
    The course of conduct refers to the proven and accepted history that has transpired between two parties, who supposedly made the verbal contract. For example, if Person #1 offered to buy a house from Person #2, and Person #2 accepted the deal and signed over the deed, then this is definite course of conduct evidence. Now if Person #2 decides he doesn’t want the house because it’s haunted, then nothing has changed regarding the existence of the verbal contract. It has already been established. Also, taking action that would suggest the existence of an oral contract could be considered course of conduct evidence. For instance, if you pay a paperboy to deliver a newspaper for a week, but later change your mind and refuse to pay, you would be unable to claim that a verbal agreement for newspaper delivery never existed.
    Credibility of the Parties
    The credibility of the party can also be established or questioned in court. This isn’t the same thing as witness credibility or character credibility. It’s more a matter of proving that an individual action or statement was credible or incredible. If a person walks inside a restaurant and orders food then it’s understood that a binding oral contract is made. Claiming that one thought the food was free (if not explicitly stated) and refusing to pay for the service would be an incredible incident, and unlikely to hold up in court.
    Without some or all of these three factors, proving that an oral contract was made can be difficult. If you make an oral contract with a stranger in business dealings then one of the two parties could easily deny ever agreeing to an oral contract or claim that such an agreement was not made in good faith.
    What "money" does he want? The money from the sale of the pick of the litter? Stand your ground. You made an agreement, and it should hold up in Court if you present your version in a believable fashion.

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