Wright v. Newman, 266 Ga. 519 (1996)

Case Name: Wright v. Newman Plaintiff/Appellee: Kim Newman Defendant/Appellant: Bruce Wright Citation: 266 Ga. 519, 467 S.E.2d 533 (1996) Issue: Whether Wright can be held liable for child support for Newman’s son under the doctrine of promissory estoppel, even though the child is not Wright’s son. Key Facts: Wright is the father of Newman’s daughter but not the father of Newman’s son. Newman filed suit to recover child support for both her daughter and son. Wright listed himself as the father on the son’s birth certificate and gave the son his last name. Wright knew that he was not the natural father. This evidenced that Wright promised both Newman and her son that he would assume the obligations and responsibilities of fatherhood, including providing support. The detriment alleged is that Newman refrained from identifying and seeking support from the child’s natural father. Procedural History: The trial court ordered Wright to pay child support for both children. Holding: Under the evidence, the duty to support, which the defendant voluntarily assumed 10 years ago remains enforceable under the doctrine of promissory estoppel. Judgment: Affirmed Reasoning: Elements of promissory estoppel were met: A promise – The defendant listed himself as the father on the child’s birth certificate and gave the child his last name, although he knew he was not the natural father. The detriment – The plaintiff refrained from identifying and seeking support from the child’s natural father. Reasonable Reliance – The defendant was the father of her other child and although it is disputed, remained in the child’s life for 10 years. Injustice – Loss of child support for her son Dissent: Plaintiff failed to meet her burden of proof that she incurred detriment by refraining from identifying and seeking support from the child’s natural father. The majority fails to state why she is prevented from now instituting a child support action against the natural father. Furthermore, Wright’s undisputed contentions are that he did not support the child the past seven...

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Watts v. Watts, 137 Wis. 2d 506

Case Name: Watts v. Watts Plaintiff:  Sue Ann Evans Watts Defendant: James Watts Citation: 137 Wis. 2d 506 Key Facts: The parties began living together in a “marriage-like” relationship, holding themselves out to the public as husband and wife. The plaintiff assumed the defendant’s surname, had two children with the defendant who also assumed his surname. The plaintiff did the home making services and even worked in the defendant’s office. She did not receive any compensation. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant indicated to the plaintiff both orally and through his conduct that he considered her to be his wife and that she would share equally in the increased wealth. Procedural Posture: The circuit court dismissed the amended complaint stating that the statutes authorizing a court to divide property does not apply to unmarried persons. The circuit court did not analyze the four other legal theories. First legal theory – that her relationship with the defendant and their children constitute a family and entitle the plaintiff to bring an action for property division under the Family Code. The court rejected this claim because they believed the legislature specifically meant the legal family. Second legal theory – Because of the defendant’s words and conduct, he should be estopped from asserting the lack of a legal marriage as a defense against the plaintiff’s claim for property division under sec. 767. The court concluded that “marriage by estoppel” should be applied in this cause because the legislature did not intend the family code to govern unmarried cohabitants. Third legal theory – The parties had a contract, either express or implied in fact contract, to share equally the property accumulated during their relationship, which the defendant breached.  The defendant’s defense was that their relationship was immoral and illegal and that any recognition of a contract between the parties contravenes public policy and weakens the integrity of marriage. The court was not persuaded by the defendant that enforcing an express or implied in fact contract would violate the Wisconsin Family Code. Fourth legal theory – Unjust enrichment. She alleges that the defendant accepted and retained the benefit of services she provided knowing that she expected to share equally in the wealth accumulated during their relationship and that it is unfair for the defendant to retain all the assets. She also states that a constructive trust should be imposed on the property as a result...

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Katz v. Danny Dare, Inc., 610 S.W.2d 121 (1980)

Case Name: Katz v. Danny Dare, Inc. Plaintiff/Appellant: I.G. Katz Defendant/Appellee: Danny Dare, Inc. Citation: 610 S.W.2d 121 (1980) Issue: Whether the plaintiff relied to his detriment on the promise of the defendant to pay him a pension for as long as he lived. Key Facts: Katz employed by Dare, Inc. and was the brother-in-law of the president. Katz was earning $23,000. The president continually sought for Katz to retire and eventually can to an agreement after 13 months. Dare said that it would pay Katz a $13,000 pension so long as he lived. Three years later, Dare sent a check for half the normal amount because Katz had begun working part-time and one day a week at Dare. The defendant stated that Katz would have been fired had he not elected to retire so Katz could not apply the doctrine of promissory estoppel. Procedural History: Judgment was entered in favor of the defendant. The trial court said that since Katz had the choice of accepting retirement and a pension or being fired, that it could not be said that he suffered any detriment when he elected to retire. Judgment: Reversed and remanded with directions to enter judgment in all suits in favor of Katz for the amount of unpaid pension. Reasoning: The elements of promissory estoppel are present: 1. A promise of a pension to Katz 2. His detrimental reliance on the promise (he would not have retired, he was no longer employable by the time Dare stopped paying him, and he failed to go out and obtain other employment) 3. Injustice can only be avoided by enforcing that...

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Kirksey v. Kirksey, 8 Ala. 131 (1845)

Case Name: Kirksey v. Kirksey (1845) Citation: 8 Ala. 131 (1845) Issue: Whether the defendant’s promise lacked consideration and was therefore unenforceable when he told the plaintiff, the widow of his deceased brother, to sell everything she had and come live with him and he would provide a place for her and her children. Key Facts: The plaintiff was the wife of the defendant’s brother, who is now deceased.  The defendant wrote her a letter and told her that she should sell everything and come to him and he would provide a place for her and her children to live. Within a month, the plaintiff abandoned her property and removed her family sixty miles to the defendant’s property. The defendant put her in a comfortable house and gave her land to cultivate. Subsequently, he notified her to move to an uncomfortable house in the woods and then required her to leave. Procedural History: Verdict for the plaintiff for $200. Holding: Reversed; however, the decision was written by the judge who did not agree with it. Reasoning: There was no consideration. Although the plaintiff moved a distance of sixty miles, which she contends is sufficient consideration to support the promise, the majority believed that this was a condition to a conditional gift. However, the judge writing the opinion stated that the moving to the defendant’s (60 miles) was enough to constitute consideration to support the promise. Compare this to Greiner v. Greiner in which the court enforced a similar promise without consideration through promissory...

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Greiner v. Greiner, 293 P. 759 (1930)

Case Name: Greiner v. Greiner Plaintiff: Maggie Greiner Defendant: Frank Greiner (son of Maggie) Citation: 131 Kan. 760, 293 P. 759 (1930) Issue: Whether the plaintiff’s promise can be enforced when it lacked consideration. Key Facts: The plaintiff (a widow) told her son, the defendant, that if he moved back to her county she would give him land for a home. She later gave him possession of an 80-acre tract of land which he moved his family to. The mother then commenced an action of forcible detention against the defendant. The mother contends that there was no consideration. However, the son contends that there was reliance on his mother’s promise. The defendant gave up his homestead in another county, moved, established himself and his family, made some lasting and valuable improvements and other expenditures. Procedural History: The district court ordered the plaintiff to execute a deed conveying the 80-acre tract to defendant. Plaintiff appealed. Judgment: The plaintiff should execute a deed to the defendant. Reasoning: Although there was no consideration, in 1930 the concept of promissory estoppel had been established and can be used to enforce the promise.   See also Kirksey v....

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Register.com, Inc. v. Verio, Inc., 356 F.3d 393 (2d Cir. 2004)

Case Name: Register.com, Inc. v. Verio, Inc. Plaintiff/Appellee: Register.com Defendant/Appellant: Verio, Inc. Citation: 356 F.3d 393 (2d Cir. 2004) Issue: Whether the defendant had assented and was bound by the terms of the plaintiff’s website when it was daily accessing the website through a software robot. Key Facts: The defendant created an automated software program to submit queries for WHOIS information from various registrars, including the plaintiff. The defendant then used the information to conduct solicitations by email, telemarketing, and direct mail. The plaintiff demanded the defendant to stop because some of its clients were getting upset and then changed its restrictive legend to state that it prohibited use of the WHOIS information for mass solicitation “via direct mail, electronic mail, or by telephone. The ICANN Agreement requires the registrar to permit use of its WHOIS data “for any lawful purposes except to: …support the transmission of mass unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations via email (spam). Register asserted that Verio was: (a) causing confusion among customers, who were led to believe Verio was affiliated with Register (b) accessing Register’s computers without authorization, a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act; and (c) trespassing on Register’s chattels in a manner likely to harm Register’s computer systems by the use of Verio’s automated robot software programs Holding:  Verio had assented and was contractually bound by the terms of use of Register’s web site because Verio had used the site many times and was well aware of Register’s restrictions on use. Where a benefit is offered, subject to stated conditions, and where the offeree takes the benefit with knowledge of the conditions, then the offeree is deemed to have accepted the...

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