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Conrad v. Fields

Minnesota Court of Appeals
No. A06-1387, 2007 WL 2106302 (July 24, 2007)


Marjorie Conrad (plaintiff) and Walter Fields (defendant) were friends who met in the early 1990s as neighbors in an apartment complex. Fields became a successful and wealthy businessman. Fields was known as a philanthropic individual and sometimes paid for the education expenses of others. In 2000, Conrad was working for Qwest Communications International, Inc., earning a $45,000 salary. Fields suggested that Conrad should attend law school and offered to pay her tuition. Conrad discussed that she had recently paid off some debt and did not want to incur additional debt. Fields stated that he would pay for her tuition. Conrad quit her job and enrolled in law school. Fields began paying Conrad’s tuition, but he stopped after an Internal Revenue Service audit froze his assets. Fields assured Conrad that he would pay her tuition once she graduated and passed the bar. However, when Conrad graduated, Fields refused to pay her tuition. Conrad sued Fields, alleging negligence and breach of contract. She also averred that she had enrolled in law school in reliance on Fields’s promises. After a nonjury trial, the court awarded Conrad $87,314.63, which was the cost of her tuition and books, on the basis of promissory estoppel. Fields moved for a new trial or for amended findings, and the court denied the motion. Fields appealed, arguing that Conrad neither pleaded nor proved promissory estoppel.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Peterson, J.)

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