Contracts I, Pages 157–161

Conrad v. Fields

Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2007

Facts:

Defendant was rich and had sometimes paid others educational costs. In 2000, he suggested plaintiff go to law school, offering to pay for her. Plaintiff did not feel capable of paying for law school on her own. Plaintiff then attended law school and defendant agreed to pay for it. Defendant paid for two payments. Defendant then stopped payment on the second payment and stopped further payments as he was being audited by the IRS. Defendant then agreed to pay for it after plaintiff graduated. Later, defendant said he would not pay for law school and threatened to get a restraining order.

Procedural History:

Judgment and order

Issue:

Is a promise enforceable if it causes harm without consideration?

Plaintiff's Argument:

Plaintiff suffered loss from not working and instead paying or law school as a result of defendant's promise.

Defendant's Argument:

Plaintiff did not plead or prove the elements of promissory estoppel.

Rule:

Page 158, Paragraph 4

The elements of a promissory estoppel claim are

  1. A clear and definite promise,
  2. The promisor intended to induce reliance by the promisee, and
  3. The promise must be enforced to prevent injustice.

Reasoning:

Plaintiff enrolled based on defendant's assurance and inducement; she would not have otherwise. This should be anticipated as defendant knew plaintiff knew defendant had helped people before. Plaintiff was not able to pay for law school on her own.

Holding:

Yes, if it meets the elements of promissory estoppel, a promise is enforceable. Affirmed, motion granted in part.


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