An informal promise without consideration, in any of the senses of that term, creates no duty and is not enforceable. But this statement is not correct if the definition of consideration is limited so as to require it to be a bargained-for equivalent given in exchange for the promise. There are many informal promises that are enforceable, even though there is no consideration as thus defined. In every case, however, an informal promise is never enforceable if it stands utterly alone. To be enforceable, there must be some accompanying factor of the past (generally called "past consideration"), or there must be some subsequent changes of position in reliance on the promise. Without any such accompanying factor, an informal promise to make a gift is not binding.
Appellant promisee brought an action against the promisor to recover the sum of $ 10,000 from the promisor as a result of an alleged oral promise made by the promisor to and with her deceased husband to pay the promisee and also to recover the further sum of $ 3,000, upon an assigned claim, based upon an alleged oral promise made by the promisor to and with her deceased husband to pay to the promisee. At the close of the promisee's case in chief, the trial court granted the promisor's motion for a nonsuit. On appeal, the court affirmed.
Was their a complete lack of good or valuable consideration between any of the parties thus warranting a judgment of nonsuit?
The alleged promises were unenforceable for lack of consideration because the promisee's own testimony conclusively showed that no good or valuable consideration ever existed between any of the parties and no evidence was produced nor was there any claim made by the promisee that the promisor's alleged promise was supported by any consideration, by any previous promise between the parties, or by any debt or obligation between any of the parties, including the promisor's deceased husband.