Wolford v. Powers Case Brief

Summary of Wolford v. Powers (1882) 85 Ind. 294

P: Wolford, people who raised a child

D: Estate of Lehman, does not want to pay promise of decedent

F: Lehman told P that if he would name his son Charles Lehman Wolford he “would make the child’s welfare his chief object in life, and provide for it generously and give it a good education" (pg. 147). D did name his child accordingly and rendered other services to Lehman such as caring for him when he was sick. Lehman signed a promissory note in the amount of $10,000 to care for the child and passed away shortly thereafter.

I: P (estate of decedent) contends that there was no valid consideration given for the note?

R: “Where there is no fraud, and a party gets all the consideration he contracts for, the contract will be upheld" (pg. 147, p. 3).

Ct. does not raise the question of adequacy here – this only comes up if we’re dealing with something else: nominal consideration, gift, duress, or something else not enforceable by the court. In this case there is no hint of “something else" or something fishy – thus, the court does not try to apply the adequacy doctrine. Could this actually be a gift rather than a bargained-for exchange?

A: “The just value [of the consideration] is that which [the parties] be contented to give" (pg. 147, p. 3). The Ct. held that the naming of the child and other services rendered to Lehman (care when he was sick, etc.) were consideration for the promise.

Warm fuzzy feeling & naming of child à promise to care (financially) for child

The care the family gave to Lehman can not be consideration because it would be past consideration.

1). Was there a bargain?

2). If so, what about the adequacy of the exchange?

§79 If requirement of consideration is met there is no requirement of a benefit/detriment analysis. If consideration is met there is no analysis of adequacy (adequacy doctrine). * Read §79 when you get a chance.

C: When the purpose of a contract is motivated by profit the court may find more ground for judicial interference as the subject matter is objective and quantifiable. However, when the motive is for personal reward or mental/psychological/spiritual gratification the consideration, if any, must be allocated the value placed upon it by the parties to the contract for they are the only ones who can know the true value of the fruits of that contract (see pg. 148 for the court’s justification of this concept).

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