W.H. Boone and J.T. Coe (Plaintiffs) brought an action against J.F. Coe (Defendant) to recover damages alleged to have resulted from Defendant’s breach of a parol contract for the lease of a valuable farm in Ford County, Texas.
The Statute of Frauds holds that no action can be brought to charge any person upon any contract for the sale or lease of real estate for a longer term than one year unless the contract is in writing, signed by the party to be charged therewith. A parol lease of land for one year, to commence at a future date, is within the statute.
Plaintiffs and Defendant entered into a parol contract to commence at a future date under which Plaintiffs were entitled to farm Defendant’s land for a period of twelve months following Plaintiffs’ arrival. Defendant also agreed that if Plaintiffs left their homes and businesses in Kentucky and moved their families to Texas to farm his land for one year, he would provide a dwelling and a grain barn for them and allot them a portion of the crops raised. Plaintiffs did leave their homes and travel 55 days with their families and wagons from Kentucky to Texas, but Defendant would not allow them to occupy the house or cultivate the land. Plaintiffs petitioned the lower court seeking to recover their lost wages and actual expenses incurred from the trip, totaling $1,387.80. The court sustained the Defendant’s demurrer to the petition and dismissed the Plaintiffs’ petition, and the Plaintiffs appealed.
May Plaintiffs recover for expenses incurred and time lost on the faith of a contract that is unenforceable under the statute of frauds?
Judgment affirmed. Plaintiffs could not recover for expenses incurred under an unenforceable contract. The Plaintiffs sustained a loss, but the Defendant received no benefit, so no obligation to pay was implied. No exception to the Statute of Frauds applied.
The Court announced that it was reversing its prior decision announced in McDaniel v. Hutcherson, which allowed the plaintiff in a similar case to recover his reasonable moving expenses and compensation for loss. The Statute of Frauds is a valuable statute, and the purposes of the lawmakers in its enactment should not be defeated by permitting recovery in cases where its provisions were intended to apply.