Sunday, December 1, 2013

Manwill v. Oyler case brief

Manwill v. Oyler case brief summary
361 P.2d 177 (1961)

Defendants petitioned and obtained leave to bring an interlocutory appeal to challenge the denial of their motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint by a trial court (Utah).

Plaintiff alleged he made payments on defendants' behalf on a farm now occupied by defendants and transferred a grazing permit and cattle to them. Any action on these transactions was barred by the statute of limitations. After defendants filed a motion to dismiss, plaintiff amended his complaint to state that defendants made an oral promise to pay him, which action would not be time barred. The motion to dismiss was denied and defendants petitioned the court for an interlocutory appeal under Utah R. Civ. P. 72. Plaintiff contended that the earlier payments he claimed to have made for defendants' benefit placed them under a moral obligation to repay him, and that this constituted valid consideration to make their oral promise a binding contract.


  • The court reversed with directions to dismiss the action, holding that a mere moral, as distinguished from a legal, obligation was not sufficient consideration to support a contract. 
  • Each party had to give some legal consideration to the other by conferring a benefit or suffering a legal detriment.
  • Plaintiff did not allege facts sufficient to make the alleged oral promise a binding contract.

The court reversed the trial court's decision with direction to dismiss plaintiff's action.

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