Lingenfelder v. Wainwright Brewery Co.

103 Mo. 578, 15 S.W. 844 (1890)



When a party merely does what he has already obligated himself to do, he cannot demand an additional compensation. If by taking advantage of the necessities of his adversary, he obtains a promise for more, the law will regard it as nudum pactum, and will not lend its process to aid in the wrong.


The company entered into a contract with the architect to draw up plans for and to supervise the erection of a brewery. The architect also owned a refrigeration company. When the company awarded the contract for the refrigerating plant portion of the brewery to his competitor, the architect gathered his plans and informed the company he would have nothing more to do with the building. The company, desperate to get the building completed, promised the architect five percent on the cost of his competitor's ice machine if he would resume work. The referee found that this promise was not supported by consideration. The lower court reversed the referee's decision.


Is it valid for a party to a contract to demand additional compensation for completion of a performance?




Upon review, the court found that the architect was obligated to finish the brewery under the original contract. The court concluded that the new promise to pay lacked consideration, reversed the lower court's order, and reinstated the judgment of the referee that the company's promise to the architect lacked consideration.

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