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Contracts Cases


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White v. Benkowski - 1967
Punitive Damages are not available in breach of contract actions, regardless of whether the breach is willful or malicious. It is an error to allow only nominal damages in a breach of contract action where there was credible evidence of compensatory damages and the jury so found.
Sullivan v. O'Connor - 1973
The question before us is whether suing for damages in a breach of contract case involving a patient/doctor promise an allowable cause of action. The question before us is whether you can receive expectancy, reliance, or restitution damages in a breach of contract case involving a patient/doctor promise.
What did Sullivan v. O'Connor do?
Teach us about theories of obligation starting with this one--agreement with consideration.
Hardesty v. Smith - 1851
Consideration that is subjectively given to a party, but that is objectively worthless, does not relieve him from his obligation.
What did Hardesty v. Smith do?
TEACHES US THAT CONSIDERATION IS A SUBJECTIVE CONCEPT. People are free to make their own decisions even if they are bad ones. “The judgment of the purchaser is the best arbiter of whether the thing is of any value, and how great, to him.”
Dougherty v. Salt - 1919
A promise without consideration can't be enforced. (Little Charles Napoleon)

Consideration for a promise is (in 1932):
1) an act other than a promise, or 2) a forbearance, or 3) the creation, modification or destruction of a legal relation, or 4) a return promise.
Consideration may be given to the promisor or to some other person. It may be given by the promise or by some other person.
Maughs v. Porter - 1932
This is the car drawing case.

g. Why is there consideration HERE and not in the Daugherty case?
i. This is in a commercial/business context. Business people seldom give gifts.
ii. There is an element of a bargain here. The defendant gets the plaintiff (and other people’s) attendance.
1. by showing up, they MAY bid. They may also bid up.
2. And if they just show up, it will be a more lively auction and may create a more exciting atmosphere.
What does Maughs v. Porter do?
It teaches us the tramp hypo. We MUST know the difference between a CONDITION and CONSIDERATION. Here, motive/reasoning is very important.

This also introduces the difference between FAMILY and BUSINESS. This is business, so it is more enfoceable than in, say, the family Dougherty case.
Hamer v. Sidway - 1891
Forbearance is good consideration even in a family context.
Baehr v. Pen-O-Tex Oil Corp - 1960
Forbearance to sue is valid consideration.


The reality is that there IS consideration. The Plaintiff forebeared suit so that defendant could get their act together. He may have had other motives as well. But there really is consideration and the holding in this case is wrong. Baehr would’ve come in and gotten all of Kemp’s old filling stations, so there was definitely a benefit that Penn-O-Tex was getting by his forbearance to sue because Penn-O-Tex was still getting the money for it.
Dyer v. National By-Products - 1986
Compromise of a doubtful right asserted in good faith is sufficient consideration for a promise. You determine good faith by checking if the right forgone was colorable/reasonable.
De Los Santos v. Great Western Sugar Company - 1984
c. Issues:
i. Does the fact that the defendant loaded beets with the plaintiff in the past constitute consideration for the defendant to do so in the future? No.
ii. Does the fact that the contract sets a time period constitute consideration for the defendant to load beets with plaintiff during that period? No.
iii. Does an executory agreement lack consideration if one party is obligated to perform, but performance is only optional for the other party? Yes.
What does De Los Santos v. Great Western Sugar Company do?
It teaches us that to have a contract, both sides must be obligated. In this case, the contract was entirely at the whil of Great Western and as such invalid.
Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon - 1917
When there is a contract for exclusive dealing, there is an automatic implied promise to use best efforts to make your part happen. This is different from the De Los Santos case because here that promise is implied.
Weiner v. McGraw-Hill, Inc. - 1982
“Mutuality”, in the sense of requiring such reciprocity, is not necessary when a promisor receives other valid consideration.

In this case, the defendant promised not to fire in exchange for plaintiff's coming to work every day, giving up other job offers, etc.
Mattei V. Hopper - 1958
When you have a “satisfaction” clause, you still have a contract. To decide if there’s breach, you check:
i. If it is business, check the reasonable person test
ii. If it is personal, check the good-faith test
Kirksey v. Kirksey - 1845
this is SO old that it is under “agreement with consideration” instead of under “promissory estoppel,” which is why she loses. – COURT MAKES MISTAKES

d. The brother-in-law won. The majority saw it as a mere gratuity that was executed for when she was there but executory for the future. They did not see it as agreement with consideration.
Ryerss v. Trustees of Presbyterian Congregation of Blossburg - 1859
Court makes mistakes again. d. The court says that the consideration was in the “labour, trouble, and expense to which he subjected the party promised.” THIS IS WRONG. This isn’t consideration, it is reliance.

The ruling is right but the reasoning is wrong. f. This is agreement with consideration. The church gets money, he gets to pick where the church is and improved property values.
Seavey v. Drake – 1882
This is moving closer to promissory estoppel doctrine.

c. The real point in this case, though, is that it doesn’t matter if there is a bargain or a gift here. That is because:

When there has been partial performance in the form of taking possession and making improvements, it is his. He has occupied it, paid all taxes on it, made improvements on it, and it is enough.
Ricketts v. Scothorn - 1898
Grandpa offers granddaughter $2,000 so she can quit her job. She does it in reliance and then sues for the money when he dies. Promissory estoppel - In this case, early case, it is called equitable estoppel.
Wheeler v. WHite - 1965
The guy relied so heavily he demolished his buildings.

d. Promissory estoppel – Section 90
i. Must be a promise
ii. Promises must induce action
iii. Reliance must be of a definite and substantial character
iv. Reasonably expect promisee to rely
v. Injustice can only be fixed
e. There was a promise and it was a very strong promise; it induced action; it was of a definite and substantial character; promisor could’ve reasonably expected reliance; justice can only be served by helping promisee.
Hoffman v. Red Owl Stores - 1965
Here, the parties were still negotiating. The promise itself is probably the weakest part of Hoffman’s case.

But, he still had all the elements. His case isn't as strong as Wheeler v. White but is still strong enough to collect.
Elvin Associates v. Franklin - 1990
c. He only wins on promissory estoppel because there was language in the contract that it was only a temporary contract/pre-agreement.
d. There was no executed final agreement, but they’ve still gone further in their negotiations than in Hoffman.
i. Franklin had been enthusiastic about the musical, saying “this is what I’m doing.”
ii. “it is difficult to imagine a more fitting case for applying this doctrine” – that is, according to the court, this is the perfect case for promissory estoppel.
XLII. Bloomgarden v. Coyer
No contract because the plaintiff did not expect a return at the time benefit was conferred.
Elements of unjust enrichment
i. Benefit to the defendant
ii. Expense/loss for the plaintiff
iii. Plaintiff has to have a reasonable expectation of return (payment) at the time the benefit is conferred
iv. Defendant must reasonably believe that plaintiff expected a return
Sparks v. Gustafson
d. Is there unjust enrichment?
i. Is there a benefit to defendant? Yes, absolutely.
ii. Is there an expense/loss for the plaintiff? Yes
iii. Did plaintiff reasonably expect payment at the time benefit is conferred? Yes, in the form of getting the building.
iv. Did defendant reasonably expect to pay? Yes, because he put in money thinking he’d get the building.
Elements of Promissory Estoppel
XXXVII. Elements of the Promissory Estoppel Theory – VERY IMPORTANT (he said this will be on the exam)
a. Promise (strength or weakness of the promise is important)
b. Induce action or forbearance (reliance) (the promise has to come first before the reliance)
c. Reliance must be of a definite and substantial character (that’s why consideration isn’t torn up by its roots) (the promise has to be linked to the reliance)
d. Promisor must reasonably expect the promisee to rely (depends on strength or weakness of the promise)
e. Injustice (gives the court a catch all “binding if injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the promise”)
XLIII. Gay v. Mooney – 1901
i. Unjust Enrichment:
1. Benefit to defendant: yes, caretaking
2. Expense to plaintiff: yes, time, effort, money, etc.
3. Plaintiff has reasonable expectation of return: yes, house.
4. Defendant has reason to believe plaintiff expected return, yes, because they talked about it and he promised a house.
XLIV. Kearns v. Andree – 1928
c. Unjust enrichment:
i. Benefit to defendant? Yes, but this is sort of specious. He lost what he would’ve gotten out of it by not buying. The court REALLY would’ve preferred Promissory Estoppel
ii. Expense to plaintiff? Yes, he fixed the house.
iii. Plaintiff has expectation of return? Yes, he’ll buy the house.
iv. Defendant has reason to believe Plaintiff expected return? Yes, he’ll pay for it in the purchase of the home.
XLV. Anderco, Inc. v. Buildex Design, Inc.
No unjust enrichment because it was just too hard to figure out who was enriched and how much they were enriched.

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