A man may promise to make a gift to another, and may put the promise in the most solemn and formal document possible; but, barring exceptional cases, such as charitable subscriptions, the promise will not be enforced. The parties may shout consideration to the housetops, yet, unless consideration is actually present, there is no legally enforceable contract.
The debtor, who was married, had intimate relations with the mistress for several years. The mistress claimed that under a written agreement, the debtor promised to pay her $ 1,000 a month during their joint lives, to assign her a life insurance policy on his life, and to pay her rent on an apartment she leased. The referee in bankruptcy held that the mistress' claim was valid based on the agreement and the trustee's objections were dismissed. On review, the court held that the entire claim was void and that the damages allowed for failure to pay the mistress $ 1,000 a month were excessive.
Was there a valid agreement between the debtor and his mistress supported by valuable consideration?
The court found that the agreement was invalid for lack of consideration because past illicit intercourse was not sufficient consideration. There was no consideration for the debtor's promises beyond past cohabitation. The $ 1 paid by the mistress was nominal and could not support an executory promise to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars.