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Hayes v. Plantations Steel Co.

Supreme Court of Rhode Island
438 A.2d 1091 (1982)


Facts

Hayes (plaintiff) was an employee of Plantations Steel Co. (Plantations) (defendant) for 25 years. In January 1972, Hayes announced his intent to retire from Plantations in July 1972. One week before Hayes’ planned retirement in July, Plantations promised to “take care of” Hayes. Hayes and Plantations did not discuss any concrete terms relating to Plantations’ promise. Beginning January 1973, Plantations paid Hayes a yearly pension of $5,000. These payments continued until December 1977 when a change of leadership caused Plantations to discontinue the payments to Hayes. Hayes brought suit in Rhode Island state court against Plantations seeking to enforce the promise to pay him yearly pensions. Hayes first argued that he was entitled to damages based on Plantations’ breach of contract. In the alternative, Hayes argued that even if no enforceable contract existed with Plantations, he was still entitled to recovery based on a theory of promissory estoppel. The trial court granted recovery for Hayes, and Plantations appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Shea, J.)

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