Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Andrew Ricketts v. Katie Scothorn case brief summary

Andrew Ricketts v. Katie Scothorn
 57 Neb. 51, 77 N.W. 365 illustrates reliance
(Supreme Court of Nebraska)(1898)

Procedural Posture: Plaintiff, Katie Scothorn, recovered judgment against defendant Andrew D. Ricketts. Defendant Ricketts appealed the ruling of the District Court of Lancaster County.

Overview: Defendant, Andrew D. Ricketts is the executor of the last will and testament of John C. Ricketts. John C. Ricketts is the grandfather of plaintiff Katie Scothorn. The action was brought based on a promissory note written by John Ricketts. John Ricketts told plaintiff that he promised to pay her 2,000 on demand with 6% interest. The promissory note was dated May 1, 1891.

Plaintiff alleges that in consideration of the note, she quit her job as a bookkeeper (accountant) for Mayer Bros. and ceased to work for a living. She alleged that the note was given to induce her to abandon her employment and by relying on it as a mean of support.

The material facts are undisputed. The allegations of the petition are denied by Andrew D. Ricketts (defendant).

Issue: Whether there is reliance by the plaintiff upon the promise made by Mr. Ricketts since it was a gift and there was no consideration in giving the gift.

Rule: Even when an agreement lacks consideration, a promise may still have a right to enforce the agreement given certain limitations.


Grandfather died on June 8, 1894-he had paid interest on the loan and had expressed regret on not being able to pay the rest of the note.

Mr. John Ricketts expressed to his granddaughter that he was intended to pay off the debt once he sold his land in Ohio.

Mr. John Ricketts supported Stockhorn in going back to work once he fell on hard times and was not able to pay on the principle on the note and Mr. Ricketts helped her get a job.

Reasoning: The plaintiff quit her job when she found out her grandfather gave her a gift that did not appear to be a contract. There was no consideration by the plaintiff in regards to quitting her job. She didn’t need to quit in order to be entitled to the money. However, the grandfather did suggest it. Because the plaintiff altered her plans based on the faith of the note, the court found that it would be inequitable not to have the executor of the grandfather's will to pay the debt to the granddaughter.

This is based on estoppel- the court stopped the estate from saying there was no obligation.

Result: Supreme Court affirmed.

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