Dougherty v. Salt – Case Brief
Dougherty v. Salt, 227 N.Y. 200 (1919).
Facts: Dougherty (P) was eight years old when his aunt gave him a promissory note for $3000. The note included the words “value received” and she told him “you have always done for me, and I have signed this note for you.” P brought suit against Salt (P), the executrix of his aunt’s estate for payment on the note.
At trial, the jury was asked to decide whether there was consideration given for the note. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff, finding that there had been consideration. The trial court set aside the jury’s verdict and dismissed the complaint. P appealed to the Appellate division which reversed the lower court’s judgment and reinstated the jury’s verdict, holding that the writing constituted sufficient consideration to make the promise binding. D appealed.
Issue: Whether a mere recital of consideration is sufficient to make a promise binding, and whether consideration given for a promise can be based on prior acts.
Holding and Rule: No and No. A mere recital of consideration cannot serve as consideration if the facts speak otherwise. Past acts cannot serve as consideration.
Discussion: The note was merely a voluntary but unenforceable executory promise. The aunt merely conveyed a charitable gift and no consideration was asked or given in return. The writing alone was not valid consideration. A promise that is given in recognition of some act in the past is not enforceable for lack of consideration.