Partnerships – Partnership by Estoppel – Proof of Reliance by Creditor Dealing With Persons in Belief of Partnership

Plaintiff telephone company sued to collect for local and long distance telephone service rendered through telephone number 196W. Defendant Walter R. Lehmann denied liability on the ground that the service was not furnished to him but to his son, Wayne R. Lehmann. The telephone was located in Wayne’s business headquarters, a building on defendant’s farm, over which hung a sign “W. R. Lehmann & Son-Dairy Cattle.” Plaintiff carried the telephone in Wayne’s .name for fifteen months, until, at Wayne’s request, the listing was changed to W.R. Lehmann & Son. The change was made for the 1953 and 1954 directories, and monthly bills were then mailed to W. R. Lehmann & Son. All bills for the first eighteen months after the new listing were paid by checks signed by Wayne or his wife. Plaintiff’s employees believed defendant and Wayne were partners, although in fact they were not. The jury found for the plaintiff. On appeal, held, reversed. Even if it be assumed that defendant was responsible for the misleading appearances, plaintiff had not made out a case of partnership by estoppel under section 16 of the Uniform Partnership Act, since it had not shown that it gave credit to defendant’s. son only in reliance upon the alleged partnership. Wisconsin Telephone Co. v. Lehmann, (Wis. 1957) 80 N.W. (2d) 267.