Hamer v. Sidway
Court of Appeals of New York
27 N.E. 256 (1891)
Hamer (plaintiff) received several assignments of $5,000 and interest from William E. Story II (Story). Story made the assignments based on money he was to receive from his uncle, William E. Story, Sr. Several years previously, Story’s uncle promised him that if he would abstain from “drinking, using tobaccos, swearing, and playing cards or billiards for money” until he reached age twenty-one, he would be paid $5,000. Story agreed and fully honored the promise by abstaining from these things until after his twenty-first birthday. At that time, he wrote to his uncle and informed him that he had upheld his promise. His uncle wrote back and said that he was entitled to the $5,000, and that the money was being held for him at a bank. However, Story’s uncle said that it would not be paid to him until he felt Story was capable of “taking care of it.” Story agreed and the money remained at the bank. Story’s uncle died without paying him the money, and this claim was brought by Hamer to Sidway (defendant), the Executor of Story’s uncle’s estate. The executor rejected the claim, and Hamer brought suit in New York state court seeking to enforce the promise to Story. The trial court upheld the promise, but the appellate court reversed. Hamer appealed to the Court of Appeals of New York.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Parker, J.)
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