K's hypo

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Oglethorpe
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K's hypo

Postby Oglethorpe » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:20 am

O is an old lady who makes an offer to D, her daughter in law. The offer: "I am an old annoying woman and I need someone to take care of me. If you come live with me and take care of me, I will leave you my house when I die." D accepts the offer by moving and beginning care taking responsibilities. Soon after, D can't take O's lip and begins to slap her around. O then kicks D out of the house and makes arrangements to leave her house to another family member. What are the rights of the parties? Specifically, can O recover damages for the costs of obtaining a new care taker based on a promissory estoppel claim?

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johansantana21
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Re: K's hypo

Postby johansantana21 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:27 am

1L here. Would like answer to this as well, but wouldn't this fall under the statute of frauds?

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Oglethorpe
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Re: K's hypo

Postby Oglethorpe » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:34 am

good point...assume it is satisfied.

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Re: K's hypo

Postby Eliyahu7 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:41 am

Two issues here...

A) There is consideration between the parties, thus forming the basis for a contract. Promissory Estoppel only applies in instances where there is no consideration

B) Promissory Estoppel requires there to have been reliance interest accumulated in anticipation of the promise. What was O's reliance?

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Oglethorpe
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Re: K's hypo

Postby Oglethorpe » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:59 am

Eliyahu7 wrote:Two issues here...

A) There is consideration between the parties, thus forming the basis for a contract. Promissory Estoppel only applies in instances where there is no consideration

B) Promissory Estoppel requires there to have been reliance interest accumulated in anticipation of the promise. What was O's reliance?



Promissory Estoppel can apply when a party reasonably relies on a promise to his or her detriment in the situation where the K is otherwise unenforceable. There is consideration and if the K had been completed, it would be enforceable under K with consideration theory. However, the K was not completed because it is unilateral and is only enforceable upon completion of performance. The performance was not completed because O kicked D out.

O relied on having her care taking problem solved at the price agreed upon. Obviously to get damages there must be damages, so assume it is going to cost her more to get another care taker. Can she get the difference?

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johansantana21
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Re: K's hypo

Postby johansantana21 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:12 am

I guess the reliance was reasonable. Proving reliance damages would be difficult though...I don't know what she could say?

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Re: K's hypo

Postby BeaverHunter » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:13 am

Typically promissory estoppel requires a promise. This is a unilateral K. The daughter in law isn't compelled to perform. What possible argument could be made for PE?

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Re: K's hypo

Postby johansantana21 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:14 am

BeaverHunter wrote:Typically promissory estoppel requires a promise. This is a unilateral K. The daughter in law isn't compelled to perform. What possible argument could be made for PE?


Couldn't you use PE or Unjust Enrichment because the contract couldn't be enforced due to Statute of Frauds or that it was too indefinite?

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Oglethorpe
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Re: K's hypo

Postby Oglethorpe » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:20 am

If she reasonably relied on the promise to her detriment...was there a promise to begin with? An implied promise? Is beginning performance of a unilateral K an implied promise? As I understand it, beginning performance on a unilateral k creates an option. I don't know if that's relevant here though.

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Re: K's hypo

Postby Oglethorpe » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:21 am

BeaverHunter wrote:Typically promissory estoppel requires a promise. This is a unilateral K. The daughter in law isn't compelled to perform. What possible argument could be made for PE?



yeah... professor seems to think there is on to be made.

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Re: K's hypo

Postby BeaverHunter » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:25 am

johansantana21 wrote:
BeaverHunter wrote:Typically promissory estoppel requires a promise. This is a unilateral K. The daughter in law isn't compelled to perform. What possible argument could be made for PE?


Couldn't you use PE or Unjust Enrichment because the contract couldn't be enforced due to Statute of Frauds or that it was too indefinite?


Who was enriched? The old lady that got slapped around? And damages...is the daughter in law's replacement is going to cost more than a house?

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johansantana21
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Re: K's hypo

Postby johansantana21 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:26 am

BeaverHunter wrote:
johansantana21 wrote:
BeaverHunter wrote:Typically promissory estoppel requires a promise. This is a unilateral K. The daughter in law isn't compelled to perform. What possible argument could be made for PE?


Couldn't you use PE or Unjust Enrichment because the contract couldn't be enforced due to Statute of Frauds or that it was too indefinite?


Who was enriched? The old lady that got slapped around? And damages...is the daughter in law's replacement is going to cost more than a house?


You could argue the old lady that got slapped around yes. She got care for however long the care was for.

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Re: K's hypo

Postby Oglethorpe » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:33 am

BeaverHunter wrote:
johansantana21 wrote:
BeaverHunter wrote:Typically promissory estoppel requires a promise. This is a unilateral K. The daughter in law isn't compelled to perform. What possible argument could be made for PE?


Couldn't you use PE or Unjust Enrichment because the contract couldn't be enforced due to Statute of Frauds or that it was too indefinite?


Who was enriched? The old lady that got slapped around? And damages...is the daughter in law's replacement is going to cost more than a house?



It's a shitty house in a bad part of town.

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Re: K's hypo

Postby StyrofoamWar » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:37 am

The old lady caused the problem when she voluntarily kicked the daughter in law out.

The agreement never provided for the daughter to come take care of her AND not slap her around. It simply said "come take care of me". D did so, O kicked her out of O's own accord.

Promissory estoppel would require reliance on a promise to one party's detriment. The daughter never made a promise to the old lady, she just acted, so the old lady can't establish the promise requirement.

If anything, I think that the daughter might have PE claim, because O promised her the house if she moved and cared for her and the daughter picked up and moved, and then O gave her the boot and not the house.

This is a pretty crappy situation to try to apply promissory estoppel, honestly. The elements just don't seem to be met.

EDIT: There might be some sort of quantum meruit/unjust enrichment issue here, that the old lady got the services of the daughter and didn't have to pay.

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Re: K's hypo

Postby Eliyahu7 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:45 am

Oglethorpe wrote:
Eliyahu7 wrote:Two issues here...

A) There is consideration between the parties, thus forming the basis for a contract. Promissory Estoppel only applies in instances where there is no consideration

B) Promissory Estoppel requires there to have been reliance interest accumulated in anticipation of the promise. What was O's reliance?



Promissory Estoppel can apply when a party reasonably relies on a promise to his or her detriment in the situation where the K is otherwise unenforceable. There is consideration and if the K had been completed, it would be enforceable under K with consideration theory. However, the K was not completed because it is unilateral and is only enforceable upon completion of performance. The performance was not completed because O kicked D out.

O relied on having her care taking problem solved at the price agreed upon. Obviously to get damages there must be damages, so assume it is going to cost her more to get another care taker. Can she get the difference?


Your first point is patently untrue. O has agreed to give over her house upon death, and in exchange D has agreed to provide care for O. The parties have bargained, considered, and formed a contract. Period. A unilateral promise places no burden on the promisee. How can you possibly say that about this agreement?

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Re: K's hypo

Postby r6_philly » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:28 am

Eliyahu7 wrote:Your first point is patently untrue. O has agreed to give over her house upon death, and in exchange D has agreed to provide care for O. The parties have bargained, considered, and formed a contract. Period. A unilateral promise places no burden on the promisee. How can you possibly say that about this agreement?


I agree with this. There was consideration and bargain, an contract was formed. D breached, O should have the right to terminate the contract. D could sue in quantum meruit for services provided, but recovery is limited to value of services provided - damages caused by the breach (cost of cover). I don't know how you would calculate the damages though because it was not a term contract.

I don't know how PE would apply. We were taught PE is to fill the gap left by the bargain theory. Here there is bargain, consideration, and contract. So contract rules/actions should govern. PE is for substitution for consideration, or breach, or equities, none of which seems to apply here.

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johansantana21
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Re: K's hypo

Postby johansantana21 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:48 am

I totally read the hypo wrong. I didn't realize you were talking about the breaching party using Promissory Estoppel.

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Re: K's hypo

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:53 am

Eliyahu7 wrote:
Your first point is patently untrue. O has agreed to give over her house upon death, and in exchange D has agreed to provide care for O. The parties have bargained, considered, and formed a contract. Period. A unilateral promise places no burden on the promisee. How can you possibly say that about this agreement?


You're confusing unilateral contract with illusory promise. An illusory promise has no consideration whatsoever and is not a contract, e.g. "Next year I'll give you $10,000 for college." A unilateral contract is a contract that only becomes enforceable on completion of an action.

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Re: K's hypo

Postby Oglethorpe » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:38 am

blsingindisguise wrote:
Eliyahu7 wrote:
Your first point is patently untrue. O has agreed to give over her house upon death, and in exchange D has agreed to provide care for O. The parties have bargained, considered, and formed a contract. Period. A unilateral promise places no burden on the promisee. How can you possibly say that about this agreement?


You're confusing unilateral contract with illusory promise. An illusory promise has no consideration whatsoever and is not a contract, e.g. "Next year I'll give you $10,000 for college." A unilateral contract is a contract that only becomes enforceable on completion of an action.



yup

There is no consideration problem here. i.e. if it was a bilateral K it would be enforceable under K w/ consideration. It is unilateral, so it is not enforceable until the performance is rendered.

Also, in return for the house, O has not agreed to provide care, she has accepted by beginning to render care. Hence, unilateral.
Last edited by Oglethorpe on Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: K's hypo

Postby Michael_Vick » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:39 pm

Boone v. Coe - Statute of Frauds

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Re: K's hypo

Postby StyrofoamWar » Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:25 pm

blsingindisguise wrote:
Eliyahu7 wrote:
Your first point is patently untrue. O has agreed to give over her house upon death, and in exchange D has agreed to provide care for O. The parties have bargained, considered, and formed a contract. Period. A unilateral promise places no burden on the promisee. How can you possibly say that about this agreement?


You're confusing unilateral contract with illusory promise. An illusory promise has no consideration whatsoever and is not a contract, e.g. "Next year I'll give you $10,000 for college." A unilateral contract is a contract that only becomes enforceable on completion of an action.


Holy hell there's a lot of vaguely correct law ITT.

This situation involves a unilateral contract. A unilateral contract is a contract in which the offerror makes an offer, which is to be accepted by performance (contrasted with a bilateral contract, in which both parties make promises).

The question at hand here is whether the old lady could validly kick out the daughter and, if so, are there any other ways to save the contract (ie promissory estoppel).

Depending on jurisdiction (AKA how your contract class covers this), an offer looking to unilateral contract such as the type made by Old Lady here may be revoked:

1) Any time prior to beginning of performance, or
2) Any time prior to completion of performance

If we are in a jurisdiction in which revocation may be effected any time prior to beginning of performance, then the old lady is stuck with the contract and breached it when she did not give the daughter-in-law the house. When the daughter in law moved and began caring for her, performance began, and the offer may no longer be revoked. The daughter accepted the offer looking to unilateral contract when she moved and began caring. At that point, a contract was formed and both parties are obligated to perform. Score one for the daughter.

If we are in a jdx in which revocation can occur any time prior to completion of performance, then arguably the old lady can still revoke because the term of the contract is "care for [old lady] until death", so the old lady will argue that the daughter-in-law has not completed performance and the Old Lady is free to revoke her offer (and does so by kicking her out and devising the house to someone else).

As a real world aside, this is why these types of service contracts are are made as bilateral contracts in which Old Lady would promise to give the house and the Daughter would promise to care. The rules re when the formation of a bi-lateral contract come into play then and there is not nearly as much wiggle room with them.

If the contract fails, the daughter may have a quantum meruit/unjust enrichment case against the old lady, since old lady got the services without ever having to pay for them in the end.

The whole illusory promise deal is a non-issue because it is not applicable to unilateral contracts. "Almost all unilateral contracts begin as illusory promises. Take, for instance, the classic textbook example of a unilateral contract: “I will pay you $50 if you paint my house.” The offer to pay the individual to paint the house can be withdrawn at any point prior to performance. But once the individual accepts the offer by performing, the promise to pay the $50 becomes binding.". The only issues to determine here is whether or not there was a validly accepted offer looking to unilateral contract." Vanegas v. American Energy Systems (Tex. 2009).

As far as the promissory estoppel claim goes, the only person who has even the slightest hint at it would be the daughter, since she picked up and moved based on the Old Lady's promise. A court may say that the old lady is estopped from changing her mind/denying the daughter the house once the daughter reasonably/detrimentally relies on the old lady's promise of the house. However, the daughter most likely has a breach of contract claim against the old lady already, and she can't recover twice for the same injury, so its likely a non-starter. Could be a solid argument if the breach of contract claim fails due to jurisdiction (see above) or a shitty judge.

FWIW, 2L with an A in contracts. But, I can't stress enough, that the way each professor teaches this varies school to school. You're taking YOUR PROFESSOR'S contracts exam, not a "universally accepted contracts exam". If your contract prof explicitly disagrees with me, please god ignore the hell out of me.

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Re: K's hypo

Postby Oglethorpe » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:35 pm

StyrofoamWar wrote:
blsingindisguise wrote:
Eliyahu7 wrote:
Your first point is patently untrue. O has agreed to give over her house upon death, and in exchange D has agreed to provide care for O. The parties have bargained, considered, and formed a contract. Period. A unilateral promise places no burden on the promisee. How can you possibly say that about this agreement?


You're confusing unilateral contract with illusory promise. An illusory promise has no consideration whatsoever and is not a contract, e.g. "Next year I'll give you $10,000 for college." A unilateral contract is a contract that only becomes enforceable on completion of an action.


Holy hell there's a lot of vaguely correct law ITT.

This situation involves a unilateral contract. A unilateral contract is a contract in which the offerror makes an offer, which is to be accepted by performance (contrasted with a bilateral contract, in which both parties make promises).

The question at hand here is whether the old lady could validly kick out the daughter and, if so, are there any other ways to save the contract (ie promissory estoppel).

Depending on jurisdiction (AKA how your contract class covers this), an offer looking to unilateral contract such as the type made by Old Lady here may be revoked:

1) Any time prior to beginning of performance, or
2) Any time prior to completion of performance

If we are in a jurisdiction in which revocation may be effected any time prior to beginning of performance, then the old lady is stuck with the contract and breached it when she did not give the daughter-in-law the house. When the daughter in law moved and began caring for her, performance began, and the offer may no longer be revoked. The daughter accepted the offer looking to unilateral contract when she moved and began caring. At that point, a contract was formed and both parties are obligated to perform. Score one for the daughter.

If we are in a jdx in which revocation can occur any time prior to completion of performance, then arguably the old lady can still revoke because the term of the contract is "care for [old lady] until death", so the old lady will argue that the daughter-in-law has not completed performance and the Old Lady is free to revoke her offer (and does so by kicking her out and devising the house to someone else).

As a real world aside, this is why these types of service contracts are are made as bilateral contracts in which Old Lady would promise to give the house and the Daughter would promise to care. The rules re when the formation of a bi-lateral contract come into play then and there is not nearly as much wiggle room with them.

If the contract fails, the daughter may have a quantum meruit/unjust enrichment case against the old lady, since old lady got the services without ever having to pay for them in the end.

The whole illusory promise deal is a non-issue because it is not applicable to unilateral contracts. "Almost all unilateral contracts begin as illusory promises. Take, for instance, the classic textbook example of a unilateral contract: “I will pay you $50 if you paint my house.” The offer to pay the individual to paint the house can be withdrawn at any point prior to performance. But once the individual accepts the offer by performing, the promise to pay the $50 becomes binding.". The only issues to determine here is whether or not there was a validly accepted offer looking to unilateral contract." Vanegas v. American Energy Systems (Tex. 2009).

As far as the promissory estoppel claim goes, the only person who has even the slightest hint at it would be the daughter, since she picked up and moved based on the Old Lady's promise. A court may say that the old lady is estopped from changing her mind/denying the daughter the house once the daughter reasonably/detrimentally relies on the old lady's promise of the house. However, the daughter most likely has a breach of contract claim against the old lady already, and she can't recover twice for the same injury, so its likely a non-starter. Could be a solid argument if the breach of contract claim fails due to jurisdiction (see above) or a shitty judge.

FWIW, 2L with an A in contracts. But, I can't stress enough, that the way each professor teaches this varies school to school. You're taking YOUR PROFESSOR'S contracts exam, not a "universally accepted contracts exam". If your contract prof explicitly disagrees with me, please god ignore the hell out of me.



Nice! Thanks. One more question. (In a jdx where old lady cannot revoke once performance is started.) You didn't seem to think that the fact that the daughter slapped the old woman around mattered. Surely, the old woman doesn't have to allow the daughter to complete performance when it is being rendered in a way that is unsatisfactory, by any standards. Wouldn't the old woman have the right to kick her out? Isn't the daughter breaching the agreement first?

If the painter starts painting the house neon green, don't you have the right to give him the boot?

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Re: K's hypo

Postby StyrofoamWar » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:53 pm

Not if you didn't tell him what color to paint it you can't. You contracted for the painting itself, not the color (from what you just described that is)

There's just not enough facts. I'm sure there's a question of adequate performance and you could argue whether physical abuse could actually constitute care. And, in real life, abused old lady is a pretty good victim in front of the jury. But like I said earlier, the K wasn't to care AND not abuse, just to care. Assuming she met the req of care (totally arguable that she didn't), I think she performed the requested act. Definitely not a case I want to have to argue though.

But by the facts you gave us, I just thought the daughter moved and was providing care services as requested. She was ALSO abusive, but she was at least arguably doing what she was requested to do.

I'm sure there's a rule out there that abuse/illegal conduct negates a care relationship. I just don't know it and haven't seen it covered in Ks

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Re: K's hypo

Postby englawyer » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:20 am

re: neon green house, you can't revoke, but you can argue neon green is a breach.

first, there is an implied term of good faith dealing. Rest 205(a) states performance must be "consistent with the justified expectations of the other party". a normal paint color is a justified expectation.

second, you can argue over the definition of "paint". paint could be said objectively to mean in accordance with typical styles, social norms, and whatnot.

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Re: K's hypo

Postby buckilaw » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:53 am

Oglethorpe wrote:O is an old lady who makes an offer to D, her daughter in law. The offer: "I am an old annoying woman and I need someone to take care of me. If you come live with me and take care of me, I will leave you my house when I die." D accepts the offer by moving and beginning care taking responsibilities. Soon after, D can't take O's lip and begins to slap her around. O then kicks D out of the house and makes arrangements to leave her house to another family member. What are the rights of the parties? Specifically, can O recover damages for the costs of obtaining a new care taker based on a promissory estoppel claim?


The SOF doesn't apply in this case because the K was for care of the old woman for the remainder of her life and she could have died in under a year.

The offer from the old woman is for a service so the common law applies. Under common law the offeror is the master of her offer and can specify an exlusive means of acceptance. Here the woman would likely say that she specified that acceptance of the offer would commence when the daughter in law began living with and caring for the old woman and that when this event occured a bilateral contract was created. The offeree might try to construe the contract as one that is unilateral becuase she recived an offer and began performance. In such a situation the old woman would not normally be able to revoke the offer duringf the course of the daughter in law's performance; if this is the case then the old woman couldn't breach the implied option right and the offeree will be entitled to recovery in quantum meruit for the fair market value of the services that she has given the old woman; possibly even reliance damages to account for moving down to live with the old woman, but reliance damages are unlikley given that the daughter's in law traveling expenses may have been mere preperation for perfomance (Curtiss). It is incredibly unlikley that the daughter in law could recieve expectancy damages becuase she didn't fulfill her side of the bargain, expectancy has not historically been allowed in these circumstances, and the daughter in law has arguably breached the implied norm of good faith and fair dealing when she struck the woman (in any event this might be a breach of the express term to care for the woman). It is highly unlikley that the daughter in law could get a warrant for specific performance given the apparant animosity between the parties. It is also very unlikley that she could sue for an injunction becuase an injunction is an equitable remedy and the daughter in law is not coming to the court with "clean hands", there is also the consideration of the old woman's health in an equity situation that seems to outright preclude the grant of an injunction prohibiting her from having a caretaker.

The old woman could likely defeat any argument that her offer could be construed as creating an option on the offeree by refering to section 62 of the 2nd restatement which states:

· Where offer invites offeree to choose b/t acceptance by promise and performance, the tender or beginning of invited performance or a tender of beginning of it is accepted by performance.
· Such acceptance operates as promise to render complete performance.

this makes good sense because in situations like this were an option might exist we don't want the offeror to suffer through a poor performance, or worse in this case actual battery (she likely has a good case for battery, possibly assault, IIED is fucking dumb).

It is unclear whether the old woman can sue the daughter in law under PE as stated in the hypo, but she doesn't really need to. Since section 62 of the restatement is on point and the daughter in law's tender of performance is given the legal effect of an acceptance a bilateral K has been formed so the old woman could sue under K law and could very likely acquire expectancy damages for the cost of a new care taker. However, the daughter in law might be able to defeat expectancy damages by making an argument about certainty because the daughter in law was to be compensated by the house which has a value of X (that actually varies given the condition of the real estate market though a reasonable range could be set) and we don't know when the old woman would die. Therefore the actual compensation per day that the daughter in law received in reference to the consideration offered (the house) is not possible to determine until the old woman actually dies. The court might find a different way of calculating expectancy perhaps using the market price of a care giver for x years while mitigating the fair market value of the servies daughter in law rendered; but this too is problematic since we don't know the length of time to use to calculate damages. (This seems reminscent of the certainty problems in Dempsey v. CCC). However, it is fairly clear that the old woman would be able to recover reasonable reliance damages in going through the transaction costs of finding another caretaker (something like an application fee to an agenecy or money for an add in a paper or something) it is unlikley that the relaince recvoery would allow the woman to say pay attorney's fees to draft a new will where the attorney recieves around 1k an hour.

Back to a potential PE claim, it's unclear that the woman justifiably relied to her detriment on a promise made by the daughter in law. Working with section 62 we can imply a promise from the performance, even absent 62 we can infer a subsidiary promise like in sub v gen contractor cases (Drenan), but I don't see how the ocurt could arrive at any reasonable rational amount of damages.

But, there is a question about the interest in land but that might be able to be worked around by acquiring a promise to devise the property - which might be different than a conveyance in an interest in land - but this argument is kind of shaky, I even think there is a statue of wills. So absent a writing the contract might be unenforcable. If that's the case the daughter in law could still recover in quantum meruit. The woman would likely not be able to sue for expectancy damages since there is no K, but this makes no difference becuase we couldn't value expectancy damages anyway. Old woman can't "rely" on section 62 to get reliance damages but she could likely refer to the Drennan decison to infer a promise in the tender of the daughter in law's performance. So the remedies would be no different.
Last edited by buckilaw on Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.




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