Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff, Pop’s Cones, Inc., is seeking damages from the Defendant, Resorts International Hotel, Inc., for losses they claim resulted from reliance on promises made by Defendant during lease negotiations.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A plaintiff may survive a motion for summary judgment on a promissory estoppel claim by presenting evidence allowing a reasonable jury to find that a defendant made a promise with the expectation that a plaintiff would rely on that promise and that a plaintiff did reasonably and detrimentally rely on a defendant’s promise.
The essential justification for the promissory estoppel doctrine is to avoid the substantial hardship or injustice which would result if such a promise were not enforced.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Can Plaintiff proceed with their suit to recover losses incurred from their reliance on Defendant’s statements?
Held. Yes. Plaintiff has met its prima facie case for promissory estoppel
Promissory estoppel requires (1) a clear and definite promise (2) made with the expectation that the promisee will rely on the promisee, (3) reasonable reliance on the promise by the promisee, and (4) definite and substantial detriment resulting from the reliance.
The Court discusses the strict clear and definite promise requirement in Malaker and how later courts have relaxed that requirement. In Malaker, the court held that an implied promise to lend money, but not a specified amount, was not a clear and definite promise. The Malaker court looked for an express promise and suggested that proof of most of the legal elements of a promise must be provided for the promise to be clear and definite. In this case, the court relaxes the clear and definite promise requirement in Malaker.
The Court goes on to note that in the present case Plaintiff seeks damages resulting from reliance on promises made during negotiations and not enforcement of a contract making this case a better candidate for relaxation of the requirement. The Restatement also supports the Court’s relaxation of the clear and definite requirement to a more “equitable analysis designed to avoid injustice.”
Discussion. Promissory estoppel requires a clear and definite promise, reasonable expectation that the promisee will rely on the promise, reasonable and detrimental reliance on the promise by the promisee. The requirement that the promise be clear and definite may be relaxed in the interests of avoiding injustice