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Ficke v. Wolken

Nebraska Supreme Court
868 N.W.2d 305 (Neb. 2015)


Facts

Gerald Ficke (plaintiff) worked as a farmhand for Gilbert Wolken (defendant). Wolken promised Ficke 80 acres of land if Ficke worked for Wolken for 10 years. Ficke did so, but Wolken never gave him the land. Ficke sued, claiming he would not have kept working for Wolken otherwise. Wolken had told Ficke the land already belonged to him and set aside its harvest proceeds. Wolken also tried to buy Ficke a house instead of giving him the land. Wolken’s sister testified that he admitted to making the promise and that Ficke had met the 10-year condition. The trial court believed Ficke, found he satisfied the part-performance exception to the statute of frauds, and awarded him the land. The appellate court agreed, reasoning that Ficke would not have continued working for Wolken but for the promise of land. Wolken appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court, arguing that Ficke’s regular employment contract could explain his continued work instead. The Nebraska Supreme Court reviewed the issue of whether any other explanation could support Ficke’s continued employment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cassel, J.)

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