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Kirksey v. Kirksey

Citation. 8 Ala. 131.
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Brief Fact Summary.

P sued D on a breach of contract action for damages sustained by P in reliance on D’s promise to provide P with a home for herself and her family if she went to see D.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

An injured party cannot recover damages sustained from a breach of a gratuitous promise, even if the injured party reasonable relied upon the promise and has suffered loss and inconvenience.


Sister Anitillico (P), a widow with several children, was comfortably settled when she received a letter from Kirksey (D).  P was the wife of D’s brother.  In the letter D stated, “If you will come down and see me, I will let you have a place to raise your family…” Shortly after the receipt of the letter, P abandoned her possession and moved into D’s residence.  She lived in D’s residence for two years in comfort, after which D forced her to move.  P suffered loss and inconvenience.  P won a judgment for $200 in damages and D appealed.


Is a gratuitous promise enforceable after a party has reasonably relied upon it and has suffered loss and inconvenience?


No.  Judgment reversed.  A gratuitous promise is not enforceable after a party has reasonably relied upon it and has suffered loss and inconvenience.


The loss and inconvenience that P sustained in breaking up and moving is sufficient consideration to support an enforceable promise but my fellow Justices disagree.


Language, circumstances, and indications of intent can make a promise sound more like a gift and less like a bargain.Modernly, the doctrine of promissory estoppel could arguably permit the enforcement of the contract because P reasonably relied on D’s promise to P’s detriment.

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