De Cicco v. Schweizer

117 N.E. 807 (1917)

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De Cicco v. Schweizer

New York Court of Appeals
117 N.E. 807 (1917)

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Facts

Blanche Schweizer was engaged to marry Count Oberto Gulinelli. Four days before the wedding, Blanche’s parents, Joseph and Ernestine Schweizer (the Schweizers) (defendants), executed a contract with Gulinelli under which the Schweizers agreed to pay Blanche $2,500 per year for life, starting on her wedding day. It also promised that Blanche would inherit her share of the Schweizer estate. The written agreement cited the engagement as consideration. Blanche and Gulinelli married in January 1902, and Joseph began making the annual payments. However, in 1912, Joseph did not make the payment. Blanche and Gulinelli had assigned their interest in the payments to Attilio De Cicco (plaintiff), and De Cicco sued the Schweizers, seeking the agreement’s enforcement. The Schweizers argued that because Blanche and Gulinelli were engaged when the contract was executed, the marriage merely constituted the fulfillment of a preexisting duty. Consequently, neither the engagement nor the marriage constituted the consideration necessary for the formation of an enforceable contract. The trial court held in De Cicco’s favor, and the appellate division affirmed. The Schweizers appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cardozo, J.)

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