Friday, December 27, 2013

Godburn v. Meserve case brief

Godburn v. Meserve case brief summary
37 A.2d 235 (1944)

Defendants appealed from the Superior Court's (Connecticut) denial of their motion to set aside the verdict for plaintiffs in their breach of contract action against defendants.

Plaintiffs agreed to provide and care for decedent in her house in consideration of her promise to leave property to them by will. Plaintiffs moved out of decedent's house and decedent changed her will and did not leave property to plaintiffs. Plaintiffs sued defendants to recover for decedent's alleged breach of an express agreement. Jury returned verdict for plaintiffs and lower court denied defendants' motion to set aside verdict. Defendants appealed.


  • The Court noted contract between plaintiffs and decedent was bilateral, containing mutual and dependent covenants. 
  • The plaintiffs were entitled to bring their action for damages for decedent's breach of contract only if decedent had actually prevented plaintiffs from completing contract. 
  • There was no evidence that decedent forced plaintiffs to leave in violation of contract; furthermore, she did nothing that was wrongful or outside of her legal rights. 
  • Defendants' motion to set aside verdict should have been granted.

The court reversed the denial of defendants' motion to set aside the verdict and ordered a new trial, holding that decedent's conduct did not prevent plaintiffs from completing the contract.

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