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Wolford v. Powers - 85 Ind. 294 (1882)

Rule:

As a rule, where there is no fraud and a party receives all the consideration he contracted for, the contract will not be set aside for want or failure of consideration.

Facts:

The dispute in this case surrounds the sufficiency of consideration. The parties were involved in an agreement that a child would be named Charles Lehman Wolford in exchange for education and “generous provisions” for his welfare. The promisor was an old man who wanted companionship; his son and wife had died. The appellant gave a promissory note for the agreement; however, the appellee worried a note would not be legally binding. Thus, the appellant paid $40 in consideration of the agreement.

Issue:

Is the consideration sufficient such that the contract is valid and enforceable?

Answer:

Yes, the court held the contract was valid.

Conclusion:

The court gave a general rule that where there is no fraud, and a party gets the consideration contracted for, the agreement is enforceable. However, there are two exceptions to this rule: (1) if the consideration is money and it is greatly disproportionate to the value of the promise, or (2) the considerations is grossly disproportionate to the value of the promise such that it “shocks the conscience of the court” and makes the enforcement of the contract unconscionable. The court held that there was no fraud here and the contract is enforceable.

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