Two recent court decisions in, respectively, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, have determined email exchanges can create legally binding contracts. In the former, emails were found to legitimize a real estate deal. In the latter, email was found to create a legally enforceable agreement to sell medical equipment.
The Tennessee case, Waddle v Elrod, was decided April 24. It involved a dispute between two family members over a parcel of land. A proposed settlement was emailed between the attorneys for both parties. A trial court concluded the phrase “that is the agreement” and signature line at the bottom of the email constituted a binding agreement, and the Tennessee Supreme Court concurred.
In Republic Bank Inc. v West Penn Allegheny Health System Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit ruled a series of email messages between bank representatives and the hospital constituted an agreement to sell medical equipment. After the hospital backed out of the deal, the bank filed a breach of contract action against the hospital.
Waddle v. Elrod, Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark, Tennessee Supreme Court Decision, April 24, 2012: http://law.justia.com/cases/tennessee/supreme-court/2012/m2009-02142-sc-r11-cv.html
Republic Bank Inc. v. West Penn Allegheny Health Systems Inc., United States Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit Court, April 12, 2012: http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca10/10-4145/10-4145-2012-04-12.html