54 N.J. 230
Plaintiffs, stepson and step-granddaughter, sought review of a decision of the Superior Court of New Jersey, which affirmed the decision of the trial court, which granted the motion to dismiss brought by defendant, executor and next of kin, in plaintiffs’ action to enforce an alleged oral contract between the deceased and plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs, stepson and step-granddaughter, brought an action to enforce an alleged oral contract between the deceased and plaintiffs obligating the deceased to bequeath her estate to plaintiffs in return for their services to her during their lifetime. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss brought by defendant, executor and next of kin. The lower court affirmed. On appeal, the court reversed and remanded.
The court held that a valid contract was entered into between plaintiffs and deceased. The evidence supported the existence of a bargain by deceased and her belief that she had contracted with plaintiffs. Her attempt to execute a will, which was stymied by her superstitions that a will was a sign of impending death, and the testimony of her attorney were strong evidence of her intent to carry out the bargain. Specific performance was the proper remedy because the law furnished no standard whereby the value of services to a loved one were measurable. It was incumbent in equity to accept the estimate of their value made by the party requesting the services, by decreeing specific performance of the agreement.
when an offeror requests an act as consideration for a unilateral contract, one who does that act with the intent of accepting the offer brings an enforceable contract into being.
- If an act is requested by the offeror as consideration for a unilateral contract, the act need only be given with the intent of accepting the offer. For example, A offers a reward for information leading to the conviction of a criminal. B, induced by motives of fear or public duty, would give the information without hope of reward, but as there is an offer of reward he intends when he gives the information to accept the offer. There is a contract.
- Once the contract is legally concluded, in giving effect to that contract the motive which induces the party to make the contract or perform it is immaterial.
- The rule that a statute of frauds is not to be used to work a fraud is well settled. Oral contracts which are performed by one party are frequently enforced where to do otherwise would work an inequity on the party who performs. Such performance takes the contract out of the statute of frauds.
The court reversed and remanded the decision of the lower court, which affirmed the decision of the trial court, which granted the motion to dismiss brought by defendant, executor and next of kin. The court granted specific performance of an oral contract in favor of plaintiffs, stepson and step-granddaughter, because the evidence supported the existence of a bargain between plaintiffs and deceased.
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