Law School Case Brief
Carlisle v. T & R Excavating - 123 Ohio App. 3d 277, 704 N.E.2d 39 (1997)
A contract consists of an offer, an acceptance, and consideration. Without consideration, there can be no contract. Under Ohio law, consideration consists of either a benefit to the promisor or a detriment to the promisee. To constitute consideration, the benefit or detriment must be "bargained for. Something is bargained for if it is sought by the promisor in exchange for his promise and is given by the promisee in exchange for that promise. A benefit need not be actual, as in the nature of a profit, or be as economically valuable as whatever the promisor promises in exchange for the benefit, it need only be something regarded by the promisor as beneficial enough to induce his promise. Generally, therefore, a court will not inquire into the adequacy of consideration once it is found to exist.
In contemplation of divorce, the husband entered into a separation agreement with the wife, although they continued living together for some time afterwards. The agreement provided that in repayment for the wife's services to the husband's business, the husband would provide construction services for the wife's business, and the wife would reimburse the husband for the cost of material. Shortly after the couple separated, the husband discontinued services. The wife filed a breach of contract action against the husband. The husband contended that there was no contract because the agreement lacked sufficient consideration. The court entered judgment in favor of the wife, and the husband appealed.
Did the husband and wife enter into a valid contract?
The court found that: 1) the husband's motivation to help the wife's business for furtherance of the relationship or increased marital income was not sufficient consideration; 2) there was no evidence that the husband bargained away the free services to his wife in exchange for the benefit of collecting the cost of materials paid; 3) repayment for services suggested past consideration that was insufficient to form a contract; 4) the promise to reimburse for materials was a condition for a gratuitous promise; and 5) the separation agreement and its contents was invalid because the couple did not immediately separate. Thus, the court reversed the trial courts judgment in favor of the wife because the contract was not a valid one.
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