In the Louisa Hamer v. Franklin Sidway 124 N. 27d 256 case, William Story, Sr., the uncle to William Story, II signed a $5,000 contract with his nephew, promising to grant him that money if he fulfilled certain conditions. In the presence of family members as witnesses, the nephew committed himself to refrain from using tobacco, drinking, and playing cards or swearing until the age of twenty-one. Having accomplished the feat and notifying his uncle in writing, another agreement was reached for the money to lie in trust to accrue interest. Upon the uncle’s death, the estate’s executor, Franklin Sidway refused to hand over the money to the authorized third party citing a lack of valid consideration for the promise.
Is the waiver of a legal right, at the request of another party, sufficient consideration for a promise?
In common law, there are provisions that safeguard the terms and conditions that have been agreed upon during the formation of a contract. These promises are binding and form part of the Uniform Commercial Code.
The nephew decided to forfeit the right to the use of such substances although they were not prohibited under the law. As such, he denied himself the luxuries in anticipation of a monetary reward as promised by his uncle. Therefore, he needed to be rewarded for fulfilling his end of the bargain. For example, in Lindell vs. Rokes (60 Mo. 247) the promise to abstain from alcohol was a valid reason for consideration. However, in Berry vs. Brown (107 id. 659); the lack of a written note identifying the individual to assume the debts after the death of one party nullified the agreement. Consequently, the presence of written communication between the uncle and nephew clearly stating the above validates the contract.
Having been handled by the New York appellate court, Louisa Hamer, the appellant won the case.
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