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A promise which the promisor should reasonably expect to induce action or forbearance of a definite and substantial character on the part of the promisee and which does induce such action or forbearance is binding if injustice can be avoided only by the enforcement of the promise.
Under date of October 6, 1932, Fried leased to Robert H. Fisher (appellee) and J. Edward Brill a store in Bryn Mawr, the term being for three years and eleven months from November 1, 1932. Fisher and Brill, as partners, carried on the business of florists in the demised premises. In December, 1933, Fisher desired to withdraw and go into a business of his own in another locality, but although Brill agreed to this Fisher did not wish to enter upon the new venture unless he could be released from the obligations of the partnership. Accordingly, he sought out Fried and told him of his plans, saying: "I expect to do something, go into some business, if I get out of here, . . . and I naturally want to get everything taken care of, obligations, . . . because I didn't want to go into anything else and have any obligations hanging over my head." Fried answered that he "was perfectly satisfied if they [Brill and his son] assumed the balance of the lease, as far as I am concerned, just forget about it." Later Fisher spoke to him again, saying, "I want to make sure that everything regarding the lease is O.K. between you and me," and Fried said he was "perfectly satisfied, I am satisfied to have Mr. Brill assume the lease, and if it is going to help you any to get started in business, I release you . . . so long as you are finished here, through here, and your responsibility is ended here, why not come up to Wayne?" Mrs. Fisher, wife of appellee, testified that her husband told plaintiff of his intention to dissolve the partnership and that he would like to know how he stood as far as the rent was concerned, because he wanted to go into another business, and Fried replied that "your responsibilities here are ended," and on a later occasion added: "it is definitely decided now that you are going out of the business, Mr. Brill has agreed to take over the lease, why don't you come up and start a store in Wayne?" At the trial Fried denied these conversations, but, in view of the jury's verdict for Fisher, the latter's version must be accepted as representing the facts. Fisher dissolved his partnership with Brill and engaged in the restaurant business in Ardmore, Brill remaining in the demised premises and thereafter conducting the old business with his son under the name of "Brill Flowers, Florists," paying the rent each month by checks signed by himself and his son instead of by himself and Fisher as theretofore. This continued for about a year and a half. On August 19, 1935, plaintiff entered judgment by confession on the lease against both Fisher and Brill for rent from July 1, 1935, to the end of the lease, September 30, 1936. On petition by Fisher the judgment was opened as to him.
Can Fisher enforce Fried’s promise to release him from further liability under the lease?
The court held that Fisher was not liable due to promissory estoppel. The court found that Fisher relied on Fried’s agreement allowing him to be released of obligations concerning rent on the property.