Stepp v. Freeman

119 Ohio App. 3d 68, 694 N.E.2d 510 (1997)



In express contracts, assent to the terms of the contract is actually expressed in the form of an offer and an acceptance. On the other hand, in implied in fact contracts the parties' meeting of the minds is shown by the surrounding circumstances, including the conduct and declarations of the parties, that make it inferable that the contract exists as a matter of tacit understanding.


Defendant group leader and plaintiff group member were members of a group in their workplace, which collectively purchased lottery tickets when the jackpot reached eight million dollars. Defendant and plaintiff had a disagreement regarding a work issue. Because of that disagreement, defendant did not inform plaintiff that the lottery had reached eight million dollars or collect plaintiff's contribution to the pool. Subsequently, the group won the lottery, but plaintiff was informed that because he did not contribute his money to the pool, he was not entitled to his share of the winnings. Plaintiff filed an action claiming his rightful share of the lottery winnings. The trial court entered a judgment in favor of plaintiff based on equitable estoppel and breach of an implied contract. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.


Did the trial court err in allowing plaintiff group member to assert equitable estoppel and breach of an implied contract in support of his claim for his share of the lottery winnings?




Plaintiff met the elements of breach of implied contract by showing that the circumstances surrounding the parties' transaction, such as the fact that the pool was restricted to 20 people, and there was a waiting list for the group, made it reasonably certain that an agreement was intended. Those circumstances were enough to support the trial court’s monetary judgment. Because the breach of implied contract was enough, the issues of equitable estoppel needed not be addressed.

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