The Case of the Disputed Deere
At a farm auction in Georgia, Dick Perez and Anna Lara bid against each other on a Deere II tractor, and Dick bought it for $65,000. At a second auction the same day, Dick bought some equipment that he wanted to add to the tractor. He again encountered Anna, and the two agreed that Anna would install the new equipment. Anna took the tractor to her place of business to work on it.
Later, Dick came to the shop and paid $6,000 for Anna to do the work. Anna, in fact, was a dealer in farm machinery. She regularly bought such equipment at auctions, then repaired and sold it. Dick testified though that Anna’s shop appeared to him to be a repair shop and not a sales store.
Jorge’s Auction Services had done business with Anna in the past on a regular basis. Jorge’s wanted to buy the Deere II tractor in Anna’s store for the next auction. Anna executed a standard pre-auction document declaring that she owned the Deere II tractor. The state of Georgia does not require ownership papers for a tractor. Jorge’s bought the Deere II tractor from Anna for $30,000. When Dick learned of this, he demanded the tractor back, but Jorge’s refused.
Dick argued that Jorge’s never acquired good title to the Deere II tractor as Anna was never given title to the tractor. Anna was entrusted with the tractor for the purpose of repairs. Jorge’s argued that they had frequently purchased equipment from Anna under the same terms and conditions as when they bought the tractor. Therefore, they owned the tractor.
Who owns the Deere tractor at time of trial?
Why? What is the legal theory(ies) used to win the case?
Is there anything the loser in this case could have done differently at the time of the transactions that might have made them the winner?