Minors and contract law


Problem: Tommy McCartney is a sixteen-year-old high school student. He has worked forty hours per week at the local convenience store over the last year, and has diligently saved $6,000 for the purchase of his first car.

While visiting a local car dealership, Tommy finds the "car of his dreams," a used yellow Camaro. Tommy walks into the dealership, announces to the dealership owner that he is "ready to buy," negotiates $6,000 as the purchase price, and leaves the dealership a proud car owner.

Over the course of the next six months, Tommy drives the Camaro eight thousand miles, wears the tires thin, dents the left front fender, and regrets his purchase. He realizes that in two short years college will beckon, and he knows that his parents cannot afford to pay for his higher education. In short, he wants his money back.

On a Saturday morning, Tommy returns to the car dealership, walks into the sales office, and hands the keys to the seller, asking for the return of his $6,000. The dealer chuckles, and then his look turns stern, saying "Son, I don't owe you anything. You've just learned a lesson in the 'School of Hard Knocks.' The car is still yours, and the money is still mine!"

Who will prevail? Is it legal and/or ethical to allow Tommy to escape his contractual obligations?

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Business Law and Ethics: Minors and contract law
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