Brief Fact Summary. Defendant Christie Lo Greco, forewent obtaining an independent source of income in order to live with his family and participate in the family venture in exchange for receiving the property after his mother and stepfather died. Before his death, the stepfather, unbeknownst to Defendant and his mother, became dissatisfied with the agreement and left his half of the joint property to his grandson, Plaintiff Carmen Monarco.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Statute of Frauds cannot defeat the enforcement of an oral contract where the aggrieved party so seriously changed his position in reliance upon the contract that he would suffer an unconscionable injury were the contract not enforced.
Issue. Is Plaintiff estopped from relying upon the statute of frauds to defeat the enforcement of the oral contract?
Held. Yes. A plaintiff is estopped from relying upon the statute of frauds when the opposing party has so seriously changed his position in reliance upon the oral agreement that he would suffer an unconscionable injury if the contract were not enforced, and further, the person seeking to have the contract enforced reaped the benefits of the contract so that he would be unjustly enriched if he could escape his obligations. Here, Defendant gave up any opportunity to accumulate his own property and devoted his life to the family venture. Natale (and his devisees) certainly benefited richly from having the defendant devote his life to the venture and would be unjustly enriched if the contract were not enforced.
Discussion. A party is estopped from asserting the statute of frauds to prevent the enforcement of an oral contract where (1) a party has so substantially changed his position in reliance upon the contract that he would suffer an unconscionable injury if the contract were not enforced and (2) the party seeking to assert the statute of frauds will be unjustly enriched if he is permitted to escape the obligations of the con