Contracts I, Pages 123–127

Birdsall v. Saucier

Connecticut Superior Court, February 24, 1992

Facts:

The plaintiffs agreed to find a buyer for defendants' building for a 10% commission. Defendants had financial issues, and so agreed with the plaintiffs to pay it over the next five years and gave him an initial payment. In response, plaintiffs gave Saucier a written receipt stating “commission paid in full.” B & S, a defendant business owned by the other defendant, dissolved shortly afterwards, but these were paid for three years, until the defendants became unable to pay. Plaintiffs then sued for the unpaid debt.

Issue:

Does a promissory note of a third party satisfy a debt?

Plaintiff's Argument:

B & S is liable for their debts, and Saucier is for B & S's.

Defendant's Argument:

Satisfaction occurred because of an accord.

Rules:

  • An accord is an agreement, which must have consideration to be binding.

  • While a lesser sum can not be given for accord, a third-party's promise to may be.

Reasoning:

Saucier's promise to pay over time instead could have constituted an accord. As there was a greater sum received eventually, the defendant company was close to insolvency, and plaintiff gave a note saying it was "paid in full," it is assumed plaintiff was satisfied with Saucier's promise to pay.

Holding:

Yes, a promissory note of a third party satisfies the debt. Judgment entered for the defendants.

Note:

An accord is a contract between creditor and debtor for the settlement of a claim by some performance other than that which is due.

Satisfaction takes place when the accord is executed.