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A third party seeking to enforce a contract must allege and prove that the contracting parties intended that the promisor should assume a direct obligation to the third party.
Plaintiff son of testatrix instituted an action against defendant attorney alleging mistakes made by defendant in the preparation of the testatrix's will. In his substituted complaint, plaintiff contended that he could recover damages as a third-party beneficiary of defendant's agreement with the testatrix to prepare her will in accordance with her instructions. The trial court granted defendant's motion to strike plaintiff's substituted complaint for failure to state a cause of action. Plaintiff sought review.
Did the plaintiff’s substituted complaint fail to state a cause of action, warranting the grant of defendant’s motion to strike plaintiff’s substituted complaint?
On appeal, the court reversed the judgment for defendant and remanded the action for further proceedings. The court concluded that the substituted complaint set forth a cause of action for plaintiff as a third-party beneficiary of a contract. The court found that the benefit that plaintiff would have received under a will prepared in accordance with the contract was so directly and closely connected with the benefit that defendant promised to the testatrix to assume a direct obligation to plaintiff, and that plaintiff was able to enforce the contract. The court determined that plaintiff could choose to proceed in contract, tort, or both.