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Greiner v. Greiner

Citation. 129 S. Ct. 1349; 173 L. Ed. 2d 588;2009 U.S.77 U.S.L.W. 3468
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Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff Maggie Greiner, asked Defendant, Plaintiff’s son Frank Greiner, to move from another county to live on land she was planning to give him. Defendant left his homestead and moved into the house Plaintiff moved to another tract of land for him. Plaintiff indicated to several people that she was giving this tract of land to Defendant, but never included a provision in her will or executed a deed to Defendant.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The relocation of a party in reliance on a promise by the other party is sufficient consideration to make the promise enforceable.


One of Plaintiff’s sons died leaving her a considerable amount of property. Plaintiff decided to attempt to put her two sons, Nicholas and Defendant, who had been disinherited by her husband on equal footing with her other sons. To further this desire, Plaintiff intended to give each about ninety acres of land. Later, Plaintiff contracted to pay Nicholas $2,000.

Defendant did not live in the same county as Plaintiff. Plaintiff requested that Defendant come and see her, at which time she indicated that she wished to give him some money. Defendant indicated that she would prefer to have a little land for a home. Plaintiff agreed and indicated that she would like him to move into the house on the land she inherited and that the land would be divided up later. After Defendant moved back, Plaintiff decided to move the house from the quarter section it was currently located on to the eighty acre tract she had indicated to several people she intended to give to Defendant. Plaintiff discussed putting a provision in her will and executing a deed to Defendant, but then did not do either. Plaintiff initiated this cause of action to have Defendant removed from the eighty acre tract.


Was there consideration?


Yes. The Court found that because Defendant moved from another county to the land and made improvements on the land, there was sufficient consideration to enforce Plaintiff’s promise to give him the land. The Court does note that when the promise was first made it was not enforceable because it was too indefinite. However, later, when the eighty acre tract was set apart for Defendant, the promise became sufficiently definite.


In the present case, the Court found the actions of relocation and improvement of land in reliance on the promise of Plaintiff sufficient consideration to make the promise enforceable.

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