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• LO15-1: What is consideration?
• LO15-2: What are the rules regarding consideration?
• LO15-3: What is promissory estoppel, and when can it be used?
• LO15-4: What is an illusory promise?
• LO15-5: What is the difference between a liquidated debt and an
LO15-6: What is an accord and satisfaction?
Chapter 15 Hypothetical Case 1
Elizabeth Tate is 86 years old and in failing health. A widow, Tate is fast losing the ability to successfully live alone and take care of
herself. Last Tuesday, the elderly lady's adult grandson, Joe Boatwright, said he would come today and pick her up, take her to his
house, and allow her to live in his spare bedroom for as long as she needed. Tate eagerly consented to the arrangement.
Today has come and gone, with Boatwright a no-show. Tate is upset and angry with her grandson. When he was a child,
Boatwright's father had left when he was a baby and his mother became an alcoholic, neglecting Boatwright to the point that
Social Services had investigated on several occasions. Tate had come to her grandson's rescue, taking legal custody of Boatwright,
and rendering to him the precious care of a loving, doting grandmother from the age of four until he reached eighteen.
Has Joe Boatwright breached a contractual obligation owed to his grandmother, Elizabeth Tate?
Chapter 15 Hypothetical Case 2
Seattle Shoestring Sales, Inc. arranged to sell shoestrings to Victory, Inc., a tennis shoe manufacturer. According to the terms of the deal, Seattle
Shoestring Sales committed to sell Victory whatever number of shoestrings it will produce next year, at $.75 per pair.
Since entering into their agreement, the price of cotton has skyrocketed by 500 percent. To produce shoestrings, Seattle Shoestring Sales's cost alone
will be approximately $1.50 per pair. Seattle Shoestring Sales has informed Victory that it cannot and will not honor the deal.
Is there an enforceable contract between Seattle Shoestring Sales, Inc. and Victory, Inc.? Is the failure to include a quantity term in the agreement
fatal to its enforceability? What about the fact that the price of cotton dramatically increased after the companies reached their agreement? Should
a court or other arbiter increase the per-pair contract price to account for the increase in the price of cotton, and then enforce the agreement?
What Is Consideration?
Something of value, given in exchange for something else of value, that is the product
of a mutually bargained-for exchange
Benefit to promisee
Detriment to promisor
Promise to do something
Promise to refrain from doing something
Rules of Consideration
For a promise to be enforced legally, there must be consideration
Contracts under seal
Court rarely considers adequacy of consideration
Illusory promise does not constitute consideration
Past consideration does not constitute consideration for purposes of present contract
Promise to do something you are already legally obligated to do is not valid consideration (pre-existing duty
Partial Payment of Debt
Liquidated debt: No dispute as to amount of money owed
Unliquidated debt: Parties, in good faith, either dispute fact money owed, or dispute amount owed
Accord and satisfaction requirements ("accord" represents agreement, "satisfaction" represents payment;
accord and satisfaction means partial payment of disputed debt discharges remaining balance allegedly
Creditor agrees to accept, as full payment, less than creditor claims owed
Debtor pays agreed-upon amount
Chapter 15 Hypothetical Case 3
John Harrington, Jr. ("Junior") is a 24-year-old, 3-pack-per-day smoker. John Harrington, Sr. ("Senior") is a very concerned parent. On January 1, father
announces to son, "Junior, if you will stop smoking for the entire year, I will pay you $5,000." Senior believes that if Junior will stop smoking for one
year, he will kick the habit. Junior reluctantly accepts his father's terms, and extinguishes his half-smoked cigarette with the heel of his boot.
On January 1 of the following year, Junior approaches Senior and says, "Dad, time to pay up." Senior has no reason to doubt that Junior has refrained
from smoking for an entire year, but states, "Son, this was for your benefit. The gift I have given you is the gift of life, and you are now likely to enjoy
that gift longer, because you are now much less likely to contract cancer. Health statistics show that non-smokers live ten years longer than smokers.
Enjoy your newfound life, but I will not pay you the $5,000."
Does Senior owe Junior the $5,000? Is there an enforceable contract between father and son? If there is not an enforceable contract, does Junior
have any other legal or equitable theory of recovery? Is Senior ethically obligated to pay Junior the $5,000?
Chapter 15 Hypothetical Case 4
Richard Clifton agreed to sell Serena Davis a boat, with a contract stating that she would make regular
payments over eight years. Davis kept up the payments on the boat for a while, but after five years, she was
unable to continue. At that point, Davis still owed $3,000 on the boat.
Davis offered Clifton a $2,500 watch instead of the remaining $3,000 she owed him. Clifton accepted the
offer and the watch, but later changed his mind and said he still wanted the money.
Can Clifton change his mind at this point? Is the debt settled?