Billy Joel decided he wanted to learn to play the violin for his next set of concerts. He called a violin salesman in New York and asked if he had any for sale. The salesman stated he had a Stradivarius and a Guarnerius (two famous brands of violins) and offered to sell them to Billy for $80,000 and $24,000, respectively. Billy agreed, over the phone, to purchase the violins from the salesman and told him he would be in town the next week to pick them up.Billy didn’t show up for two months, and when he entered the store, the salesman wasn’t there. His wife, Margaret, was there in the store, however, and she had full knowledge of the deal cut between her husband and Billy. (She’d heard her husband whining, complaining, and wailing about Billy not showing up for the last 2 months – and she was really sick of hearing about it.)Billy asked to see the violins, and Margaret showed him both of them. Billy stated he would agree to pay $65,000 for both of them, and Margaret, knowing that they were counterfeits and only worth $2,000 AND realizing that their house was about to go into foreclosure, agreed to the reduction in price and sold Billy the two violins for $65,000. She gave him a bill of sale that she wrote out on a note pad on the counter, which said, “Paid in full. Strativarus and Granruius violans. $65,000. Chk # 4301 Billy Joel. Salesperson: Margaret Madoff.” The notepad was one she had brought home from their last vacation to Las Vegas and was from The Flamingo hotel there. Billy took home the violins and proceeded to learn to play, albeit very poorly.Meanwhile, the salesman discovers that Margaret sold the violins for less than he had bargained for. He sues Billy Joel for the $39,000 difference, stating that Margaret was not an employee of the store and had no authority to change the deal he and Billy had made.During the pendency of the suit, and after his next concert, the newspapers stated, “Billy Joel should give up playing the violin! He stinks!” Billy takes his violins to a music store to sell them and discovers they are only worth $2,000 and that they are not Stradivarius and Guarnerius violins but are instead counterfeits.He wants to countersue the salesman and asks you on what basis can he do so. Using contract, agency, and any other legal concepts you have learned this session, on what bases can Billy sue the salesman and his wife? What defenses will they have? Do you think Billy can recover? Further, will Margaret’s husband (his name is Bernard) be able to collect against Billy for the difference in price from the original deal? Explain your answer fully as to the why’s, wherefore’s, and why not’s for both parties. Use bullet points and “issue spotting” to assist you in your answer.
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