James Ricci had a younger brother, Carl, who died at the age of 27 and left a widow, Sarah with a five-year old son, David. James was a busy and successful entrepreneur who tried to help his nephew, David as the boy grew older. In his teen years, David was a disappointment to his uncle, James and his mother, Sarah. While quite intelligent and capable, he just partied and had fun and as a result barely graduated from high school. David found a job and eventually realized that he was wasting his talent. He enrolled in a college night school program and performed brilliantly. Uncle James took David aside and made the following oral promise: " David, you did well in school. If you enroll in a full time college program for your Bachelor of Arts, I will give you a check for $50,000 on your graduation to get you started." David was excited. He quit his job, moved in with his mom, took out college loans, and studies hard. Three years later, he completed all of his studies. About two weeks before the college graduation, David went to see his Uncle James. He reminded him of the promise and wanted to know when he could get the $50,000 check in that he needed it to pay off his college loans. James told him that he wasn't going to give him a check and never intended to do so. He just wanted to motivate David. And besides, David will be getting a job and if anything, he should be thankful be thankful that his uncle had given him something to work for. David is not only sad but desperate as his school bills total over $60,000, and the $50,000 would help him to get a start.
He left his uncle' house and decided to give your law firm a call. He made an appointment and YOU have been assigned the case. He comes into YOUR office and tells the story that you have just read. He shares with YOU that he really thought his uncle would give him the $50,000 to help defray costs, and is so desperate that he would be willing to sue his uncle if he had to in order to get the money. YOU tell him that you need to reflect and to do some research on this issue, and that you will get back to him as to whether he has an actionable case against his uncle.
So, what do you think?
Answer the following:
1. Does David have a case against his uncle? Can he get the $50,000 check? If so, describe the specific aspects of contract law that would allow him to collect.
2. From the uncle's point of view, what defenses would he allege if sued by David? Use specific points of law.
3. Weighing the position in #1 from David's point of view and in#2 from the uncle's point of view, as judge how would you decide this if it were in your courtroom? What aspects of contract law seem most persuasive?