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Conrad v. Fields

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Conrad sued for breach of contract after Fields failed to deliver on an agreement to pay for Conrad’s law school tuition.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A promise that the promisor expects to induce an action or forbearance on the part of the promisee, that actually induces that action or forbearance, is binding on the promisor, even if no contract existed.

    Facts.

    Conrad and Fields met in an apartment complex in the 1990s and became friends. When Fields became financially successful he suggested that Conrad go to law school and that he would pay for it. Conrad subsequently quit her job to attend to law school. Fields admitted in court that he agreed to pay Conrad’s tuition prior to her enrolling in law school. Fields made two payments in Conrad’s first semester of law school but stopped payment on the second check because of financial issues. After the first years, Conrad contacted Fields regarding her tuition and he put in writing that after she graduates law school and passed the bar, he will pay her tuition. Following that, he said that he will not pay her expenses and threatened to get a restraining order if she kept contacting him.

    Issue.

    Whether a promise that the promisor expects to induce an action or forbearance on the part of the promisee, that actually induces that action or forbearance, is binding on the promisor?

    Held.

    Yes. On reliance of Fields’ promise, Conrad quit her job and attended law school despite a serious health condition that might have deterred her from going. Fields’ argues that shortly after Conrad enrolled in law school that he advised her that he would not pay her expenses and that Conrad could not have relied on his promise.Under these circumstances, Conrad wasn’t aware until after graduation that she would suffer damages. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

    Discussion.

    Promissory estoppel requires a: (1) clear and definite promise, (2) the promisor intended to induce reliance by the promisee, and the promisee relied to the promisee’s detriment, and (3) the promise be enforced to prevent injustice.


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