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Valdez v. Viking Athletic Ass'n

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 11, 1953

MANUEL VALDEZ, APPELLEE,

v.

VIKING ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION, APPELLANT.



Appeal by defendant from the Municipal Court of Chicago; the Hon. THADDEUS V. ADESKO, Judge, presiding. Heard in the third division of this court for the first district at the June term, 1952. Affirmed in part and reversed in part. Opinion filed February 11, 1953. Released for publication February 26, 1953.

MR. JUSTICE FEINBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT. Plaintiff brought this action against defendant for breach of alleged contracts for his services as a soccer player. The complaint was in three counts. An answer was filed as to each count, and upon a trial with a jury a verdict was returned for the defendant on the first count and for the plaintiff on the third count in the sum of $3,070. The court did not submit the second count to the jury and heard no evidence thereunder but entered judgment for plaintiff for $500 upon said count and the answer. Defendant's motions for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict were overruled and judgment entered upon the verdict under Count III, from which judgments under Counts II and III defendant appeals. Plaintiff did not appeal from the verdict under the first count, and it is therefore not involved upon this appeal.

Before trial, plaintiff, under Rule 53 of the Municipal Court, filed a motion and affidavit calling upon defendant to admit certain facts therein listed. Plaintiff thereafter filed a motion for allowance of attorney's fees for failure to admit the facts called for in Rule 53. The court denied the motion for attorney's fees, from which order plaintiff cross-appeals.

Count II alleged that on or about December 20, 1948, plaintiff entered into an oral contract with defendant, which contract stipulated that plaintiff, for the consideration of $500, was to make or enter into a written contract with defendant to perform as a professional soccer player and trainer with defendant's soccer team for the year 1949-1950; that on or about February 4, 1949, plaintiff received a letter from defendant, which set forth the terms of said written contract, a copy of which letter is attached to the complaint as exhibit "A"; that plaintiff, by reporting to the defendant at its place of business in Chicago, Illinois, and being then and since at all times ready, willing and able to perform as professional soccer player and trainer, accepted said offer and did thereby perform his part of the said oral contract; that defendant refused to pay said sum of $500.

The alleged written contract dated February 1, 1949, attached to the complaint as exhibit "A," is signed by defendant and addressed to plaintiff at Mexico City, Mexico, and reads as follows:

"This letter is a contract where both you Mr. Valdez and the Viking Athletic Association Inc. agree to the following terms:

"That the Viking Athletic Association of 5434 N. Ashland Ave. Chicago, Illinois are to pay Mr. Valdez the sum of Sixty (60) dollars per week for the services as a Soccer Player and Trainer for their Soccer Team. This Contract is for one (1) year from the date, when reporting for duty to the First Team Manager of the Viking A.A. Soccer Team of the National League."

The answer as to Count II alleged that plaintiff obtained the letter from defendant concerning employment as a soccer player merely for the purpose of facilitating his entry into the United States, and any purported agreement is void as being contrary to law and public policy. Plaintiff's theory is that Count II alleged an offer to enter into a written contract, and since the written contract was accepted by plaintiff, and he offered to perform his services, the oral offer was thereby accepted and performed, and the defendant became liable.

It is a fundamental rule of contracts that to constitute a contract by offer and acceptance, the acceptance must conform exactly to the offer, and a letter written in reply to an offer, which restates the terms of the offer with some variations, though slight, cannot be regarded as a consummation of the contract. Snow v. Schulman, 352 Ill. 63, 71. An acceptance must conform exactly to the offer. If it contains new conditions, there is no contract. Brach v. Matteson, 298 Ill. 387, 392.

The offer in the instant case was to enter into a written contract for services for the year 1949-1950. The letter, dated February 1, 1949, stated: "This letter is a contract * * * for one year from the date when reporting for duty." This was at variance with the term of employment contained in the offer and therefore could not be considered an acceptance of the offer under the rule of the cases cited.

The alleged written contract, embodied in the letter referred to, must be read in connection with the oral offer set up in Count II. There is nothing in the letter which compels the plaintiff to report for duty at any specific time. If the offer, as alleged, was for his services for the year 1949-1950, there was nothing under the terms in the letter to prevent plaintiff from reporting for duty the last day or two, or even the last week of the term 1949-1950. It demonstrates the indefiniteness and uncertainty and the lack of mutuality necessary to the validity of such an offer, and it is therefore unenforceable.

The further defense to Count II that the letter was given "merely for the purpose of facilitating his entry into the United States and any purported agreement is void as being contrary to law and public policy," is predicated upon the Federal statute, Title 8, § 141, U.S.C.A., which reads:

"Validity of contracts for labor of aliens made before importation

"All contracts or agreements, express or implied, parol, or special, which may be made by and between any person, company, partnership, or corporation, and any foreigner or foreigners, alien or aliens, to perform labor or service or having reference to the performance of labor or service by any person in the United States, its Territories, or the District of Columbia previous to the migration or importation of the person or persons whose labor or service is contracted for into the United States, shall be utterly void and of no effect. Feb. 26, 1885, c. 164, § 2, 23 Stat. 332."

This defense is also leveled against the recovery under Count III, and we shall discuss this question ...


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