Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Loring v. City of Boston case brief

Loring v. City of Boston case brief summary
48 Mass. 409 (1844)

Plaintiff claimants filed suit for breach of contract to collect on a reward for the apprehension and conviction of an arsonist that defendant city had advertised but failed to pay when the claimants attempted to collect almost four years after the advertisement for the reward ran in the newspaper. The city filed a motion for a nonsuit.

When the city suffered numerous acts of arson, the mayor published a reward notice for the apprehension and conviction of the arsonist. The reward was doubled a few days later. The claimants expressed an intention to collect a suspect. Almost four years later, the claimants apprehended the suspect and produced witnesses that resulted in conviction of the arsonist. The city refused to pay the reward and the claimants brought suit for breach of contract. The city filed a motion for a nonsuit.


  • The court granted the nonsuit. 
  • While there was no question that the advertisement created a binding obligation upon the city to pay the reward if the terms were met in the entirety, the obligation was limited to a reasonable period of time. 
  • The court rejected the city's claim that the offer had expired with the mayor's term of office because the city was a perpetual entity. 
  • However, the court found that it need not determine the exact point at which reliance became unreasonable because reliance almost four years later was clearly unreasonable. 
  • Therefore, a nonsuit was appropriate.
The court granted a nonsuit to the city on the claimants' breach of contract action.

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