Contracts I, Pages 154–158 (ed. 1)

Drake v. Bell

Supreme Court, Kings County, New York, 1899


Plaintiff made a contract with Russell to repair her vacant house for $210. Russell instead repaired defendant's house next door by his own mistake. He then informed the defendant, who did not know yet. The work could not be removed. Defendant looked it over and disclaimed responsibility, but had Russel reduce his bill to $194, the value of the work, and orally promised to pay him that sum. Defendant's house was immediately leased out as a result of the improvement, and Russel filed a mechanic's lien against the house and defendant, based on the promise, and then assigned this lien to plaintiff.


Was the promise to pay for past work binding?


§ 86 – A promise made in recognition of a benefit previously received by the promisor from the promisee is binding to the extent necessary to prevent injustice.


Defendant promised the payment in exchange for plaintiff's work.


Yes, the promise to pay was binding. Judgment for the plaintiff.