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If a defendant admits under oath that a contract was formed, the purposes of the statute of frauds, Okla. Stat. tit. 15, § 136, are served, and the contract will be afforded full legal effect.
In the original suit, the appellant cattle owner alleged that the appellee property owner had converted several thousand head of cattle. The parties reached a settlement, and the terms of the settlement were agreed to before a magistrate judge. The agreement involved, inter alia, transfer of real estate from the property owner to the cattle owner. That suit was then dismissed. The property owner then refused to abide by the agreement, which was never put in writing. The cattle owner filed the instant suit. The trial court found that the statute of frauds, Okla. Stat. tit. 15, § 136, barred the claim. The cattle owner appealed.
Was the parties’ oral agreement unenforceable under Oklahoma’s statute of frauds?
The appellate court found that neither equitable nor promissory estoppel prohibited the property owner from raising the statute of frauds. The appellate court found that Oklahoma had never specifically addressed the judicial admission exception to the statute of frauds, and the appellate court was not prepared to predict that the Oklahoma Supreme Court would have adopted that exception. However, the appellate court predicted that the Oklahoma Supreme Court would have adopted at least a limited variation of the judicial admission exception if it had to decide the case.