Mitchill and Reliance : LUSENET : Lessig's Contracts : One Thread

It is pretty clear that the court in Mitchill was unreceptive to plaintiff's claim that the written contract had been modified by subsequent oral agreements. I wonder, however, what would have happened if the plaintiff had instead (or also) made a reliance claim based upon the defendant's promises to remove the icehouse. Would the completeness of the contract also preclude presentation of evidence that the plaintiff had incurred unreasonable expenses (for example, the "considerable costs" of improving the property "for use as a summer residence") because of the defendant's oral assurances?

cheers, andy

-- Anonymous, November 16, 1998


I think the order in the case was: oral agreement to remove icehouse, followed by purchase of land in reliance on oral contract. So it is, more or less, a reliance claim. If the oral agreements had been subsequent, I think the plantiff would have had a much stronger claim (this relates to today's class discussion, I guess). As long as the oral agreement was precedent to the written, the court seems to say the "transactions are necessarily bound together".

As for your second question, I think the answer is related to the third criteria the court uses, that the oral agreement must be one which would not normally be covered by the written agreement. Here, I think any oral agreement about use as a "summer residence" would be above and beyond a normal written agreement to transfer ownership. In fact, I think Mitchill would have been better off in this case, saying the icehouse was supposed to be removed for summer residence purposes, than in the actual case of purchasing the land in reliance on icehouse removal.

-- Anonymous, November 16, 1998

Moderation questions? read the FAQ