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Congregation Kadimah Toras-Moshe v. DeLeo

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Brief Fact Summary.

The Congregation Kadimah Toras-Moshe (Congregation) sought to compel the administrator of an estate to fulfill an oral promise of the decedent to give $25,000 to the Congregation

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

.  The courts will not enforce a promise in favor of charity where there is no showing of any consideration or reliance. 

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

We do not use the expression promissory estoppel, since it tends to confusion rather than clarity.

View Full Point of Law

The Rabbi visited the decedent several times throughout his prolonged illness, and in the presence of witnesses, the decedent promised repeatedly to leave $25,000 to the Congregation.  The Congregation planned to use the funds to transform a synagogue storage room into a library named after the decedent, and asserted that there was a valid contract because the promise was supported by consideration and bargain, or reliance


Was the oral promise of a monetary gift enforceable?


No.  Judgment affirmed. 

There was no indication that the Congregation’s plan to name the library after him induced the decedent to make or renew his promise.
The Congregation’s inclusion of $25,000 in its budget merely reduced to writing its expectation that it would be receiving additional funds. 






There was no injustice in failing to enforce the decedent’s promise, in the absence of consideration or reliance.  Further, to enforce such an oral promise against an estate would be against public policy.

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