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Kirksey v. Kirksey

Melissa A. Hale

ProfessorMelissa A. Hale

CaseCast "What you need to know"

CaseCast –  "What you need to know"

Kirksey v. Kirksey

Citation. 8 Ala. 131 (1845)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff Kirskey, was the sister-in law of Defendant Kirksey. After Plaintiff’s husband died, Defendant offered to put up Plaintiff on his land. Plaintiff gave up her land and moved to Defendant’s property, but approximately two years later Defendant made Plaintiff leave his property.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A mere gratuitous promise is without the consideration necessary for enforcement as a contract.


Plaintiff was the wife of Defendant’s brother, but was now a widow with several children. Plaintiff lived on leased public land would have attempted to secure the land had she continued to reside there. Defendant lived approximately sixty to seventy miles from Plaintiff. After hearing of his brother’s death, Defendant wrote Plaintiff and offered to provide her with land to live on if she came to see him
Plaintiff left the public land she was leasing and moved to Defendant’s land. For the first two years, Defendant put Plaintiff and her family up in a comfortable home and gave her land to cultivate. After the first two years, Defendant removed Plaintiff and placed her in an uncomfortable house in the woods. Defendant then required that Plaintiff leave the house in the woods.


Is there consideration to enforce Defendant’s promise?


No. Defendant’s promise was gratuitous, and as such cannot be enforced due to lack of consideration.
Although the Justice writing the opinion would consider Plaintiff’s inconvenience valid consideration to enforce Defendant’s promise, the Court finds that the promise is merely gratuitous and lacks consideration.


The Court finds Defendant’s promise to be gratuitous and will not enforce it due to lack of consideration. It may be that the court was reluctant to interfere in a family dispute. Today, the facts presented in this case would likely be analyzed under promissory estoppel.

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