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Kellum v. Browning's Adm'r, - 231 Ky. 308, 21 S.W.2d 459 (1929)

Rule:

A promise in a contract may be inferred wholly or partly from such conduct as justifies the promisee in understanding that the promisor intended to make a promise. To constitute such a contract there must, of course, be a mutual assent by the parties--a meeting of minds--and also an intentional manifestation of such assent. Such manifestation may consist wholly or partly of acts, other than written or spoken words.

Facts:

Mrs. Lena Browning died in August, 1925, possessed of an estate of about $30,000. She bequeathed $3,000 to each of her four nieces and nephews, including the claimant, Mrs. Emma F. Kellum. A certain house and lot was devised to Georgetown College, at Georgetown, Ky., and the residue to the Baptist Church at Grayson, Ky. Mrs. Kellum filed a claim with the administrator, alleging an express contract to pay for the services, and stated that during all the time the claimant conducted a rooming and boarding house, furnishing accommodations for hire to those desiring them. The claim presented with this pleading covered a period of more than nine years and was on the basis of $25 a week, the aggregate being $12,000. She acknowledged payment of approximately $900.  The court entered judgment denying the claim. 

Issue:

Did Mrs. Kellum have a valid claim against the estate?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court held that the claimant presented sufficient evidence of an implied contract to have her case submitted to the jury, and it reversed the lower court and remanded for a new trial. The court found that the decedent lived in the claimant's home after her husband's death and that the claimant provided her aunt with room, board, laundry services, and nursing services. The court further found that the claimant operated a rooming and boarding house during this period, that the decedent periodically paid for her board, that the parties were related, but that the decedent made exacting demands upon the claimant. The court held that this evidence was sufficient to present the jury with the issue of the claimant's right to recovery for a contract implied in fact and in law. However, the court rejected the claimant's argument that she was owed compensation for the full nine years that the decedent resided with her and held that the lower court properly applied the five-year statute of limitations to this action.

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