Trimmer v. Van Bomel

107 Misc. 2d 201, 434 N.Y.S.2d 82 (Sup. Ct. 1980)

 

RULE:

It is a necessary requirement in the nature of things that an agreement in order to be binding must be sufficiently definite to enable a court to give it an exact meaning.

FACTS:

Plaintiff beneficiary was a travel tour operator when defendant benefactress, a wealthy widow, allegedly agreed to support him in a luxurious fashion if he would devote all his time and attention to her. Plaintiff became her companion for five years. During their time together, defendant expended over $ 300,000 for plaintiff's personal needs. Plaintiff alleged that he fully performed the agreement on his part, but defendant had failed and refused to provide him, as agreed, with a sum sufficient to maintain him on a standard of sumptuous living for the remainder of his life. Plaintiff filed an action against defendant, seeking to recover on an alleged express oral agreement. The court dismissed the complaint and granted summary judgment to defendant.

ISSUE:

Was there an enforceable obligation to compensate plaintiff beneficiary for services rendered to defendant benefactress, which included giving her time and attention, accompanying her on trips and to restaurants and being her companion?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The express oral agreement alleged by plaintiff beneficiary was too vague in any of its material terms to be enforceable in that the relationship was terminable at will, no amount was specified, no time was set forth, no mechanics for the payments were spelled out, and there was no specification as to what had to be done to qualify or disqualify plaintiff for the payments. Furhter, there was no implied obligation to compensate plaintiff for his services since the personal services involved were of a nature which would ordinarily be exchanged without expectation of pay, and an implied contract to compensate for those things which were ordinarily done by one person for another as a matter of regard and affection should not be recognized in the State.

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