Greiner v. Greiner – Case Brief
Greiner v. Greiner, 131 Kan. 760, 293 P. 759 (1930).
Facts: Peter Greiner died testate leaving a widow (P) and sons and daughters. Four of his children including Frank (D) were disinherited and were left five dollars each. P decided to put D on an equal footing with those children who had been favored in the will. Frank had homesteaded a quarter section of land in a different county, and had lived there sixteen or seventeen years. P lived in a different county than D and the land she wanted to give to D was near her home. D accepted P’s offer of an eighty acre tract of land and moved his house from his homestead to the eighty acre tract of land.
P later brought an action for forcible detention to recover the land and remove D. D filed a countersuit and sought specific performance for P to execute a deed and convey the property to him. At trial the court entered judgment in favor of D and ordered P to execute a deed and convey the land. P appealed.
Issue: Can a promise be enforceable even though it does not contain any consideration?
Holding and Rule: Yes. A promise reasonably inducing definite and substantial action is binding. A promise which the promissor should reasonably expect to induce action or forbearance of a definite and substantial character on the part of the promisee and which does induce such action or forbearance, is binding if injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the promise.
In this case, P fulfilled her intention up to the point of executing and delivering a deed. P did promise to give D land for a home if he would move back to Mitchell County. At that point the promise was unenforceable because of indefiniteness because no particular land was specified, but the offer was later made perfectly definite. The eighty-acre tract was segregated for D, P fitted it for his occupancy as a home, and she gave him possession of it. D gave up his homestead and lived on the land for a year before he was served with the notice to quit.
Notes: Generally, the doctrine of promissory estoppel is applicable only when there is no valid consideration; however, it has also been used to remove contracts from the Statute of Frauds even where other valid consideration exits.