Hughes v. Compass Lincoln Mercury, Inc.

A-3527-97T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)
  • Opinion Date: January 20, 1999

CONTRACTS; PAROL EVIDENCE—The parol evidence rule bars introduction of oral promises to alter the terms of an integrated contract.

A buyer bought a car from a dealership through the use of an order form. The figures on the order form bore the signatures of both the buyer and the dealer’s sales representative, and showed a “balance due in cash” of $20,543.90. A month later, when the buyer accepted delivery of the car, a second document was signed which essentially reproduced the figures set forth on the order form. The buyer tendered a cashier’s check for the balance which matched the final cash figure on the order form. Later, the buyer came to believe that the sum that was demanded and paid was in error because it contradicted the terms of an oral agreement he had negotiated when the original order was signed. The buyer returned to the dealership, demanded a partial refund, and filed suit after the demand was refused. The lower court and the Appellate Division agreed that the parol evidence rule prohibited the introduction of oral promises to alter the terms of an integrated contract. The buyer was unable to introduce any proof that would warrant a deviation from the application of that rule. Further, the Court concluded that had the buyer believed that the balance demanded by the dealer at the time the car was delivered was different from what the buyer expected to pay, it was the buyer’s obligation to refuse delivery or to renegotiate the purchase price or the sum allegedly owed upon delivery. Acceptance of the car and execution of the final sales document replicating the original order belied the buyer’s contention that the dealer had either breached its contract or fraudulently induced the buyer to enter into the agreement.