Kirksey v. Kirksey – Case Brief Summary
Kirksey v. Kirksey, 8 Ala. 131 (1845).
Kirksey (D) was the brother of Antillico Kirksey’s (P) deceased husband. The defendant offered Kirksey a home on his property and Kirksey accepted. She moved sixty miles and lived in the defendant’s home for two years. He later forced her to relocate to a remote location on the property and eventually demanded that she leave altogether.
Kirksey sued for breach of contract on the grounds that her costs in relocating to the defendant’s property were sufficient consideration to enforce his promise to provide her with a home. The court entered a judgment in favor of the plaintiff for $200 and defendant appealed.
- Is a gratuitous promise enforceable where a party has reasonably relied on that promise and has suffered loss and inconvenience?
Holding and Rule
- No. A gratuitous promise is not enforceable even if a party has reasonably relied on that promise and has suffered loss and inconvenience.
The court held that the promise was a mere gratuity and not enforceable for lack of consideration.
Kirksey’s loss and inconvenience were sufficient consideration to render the defendant’s promise enforceable.
Contract offers are to be interpreted according to a manifestation of contractual intent. This is determined by considering what a reasonable person standing in the promisee’s shoes would perceive to have been said. Today, the doctrine of promissory estoppel would allow enforcement of the contract because Kirksey reasonably relied upon defendant’s promise to her detriment. Promissory estoppel is a consideration substitute and is not consideration; it must therefore be considered only when consideration is not present.