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Maryland National Bank v. United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Washington, Inc.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Milton Polinger pledged to pay $200,000 over a 3-year period to UJA (plaintiff). Polinger’s died following year with $133,500 remained unpaid. Polinger’s Last Will was admitted to probate and Melvin Oksner and Maryland National Bank (defendants) were Polinger estate’s representatives. Defendants rejected UJA’s claim.UJA filed a petition against defendants. The trial court granted UJA’s motion for summary judgment. Defendants appealed.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    In Maryland, a gratuitous promise to pay a charitable organization a a sum of money, with no lawful consideration, is unenforceable.

    Facts.

    Milton Polinger swore to pay $200,000 over a three-year time to the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Washington, Inc. (UJA) (plaintiff), a not-for-profit charitable organization. At the time of Polinger's death, the next year $133,500 remained unpaid on his promise. Polinger's Last Will and Testament (Will) was confessed to probate and Melvin Oksner and Maryland National Bank (defendants) were named as the Polinger estate’s personal representatives. Defendants dismissed UJA's claim for the unpaid pledge amount. From that point, UJA recorded an appeal against defendants and the estate looking for the rest of the money. The trial court granted UJA's motion for summary judgment. Defendants appealed.

    Issue.

    In Maryland, is a gratuitous promise to pay a charitable organization a sum of money with no lawful consideration enforceable?

    Held.

    No. In Maryland, a gratuitous promise to pay a charitable organization a a sum of money, with no lawful consideration, is unenforceable.

    Dissent.

    N/A

    Concurrence.

    N/A

    Discussion.

    In Erdman v. Trustees Eutaw M.P. Ch., 129 Md. 595 (1917), the Maryland Supreme Court concluded Erdman's promissory note to pay the Eutaw Methodist Church $500 was substantial and binding and that there was adequate consideration to support the congregation's reliance that Erdman would pay the agreed sum of money. In Erdman, the congregation had recorded Erdman's guarantee to pay $500 in its bookkeeping records and in anticipation of getting the money, acquired over $2,000 to pay off existing obligations. Here, Polinger's guarantee to pay UJA $200,000 was not supported by any legitimate consideration. Polinger's promise provoked no action or forbearance of a definite and considerable character with respect to UJA. Along these lines, Polinger's promise was a gratuitous promise and is unenforceable. The judgment of the trial court is reversed and the matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.


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