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Plate v. Durst

24 S.E. 580 (1896)

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Plate v. Durst

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

24 S.E. 580 (1896)

Facts

In 1885, 12-year-old Amelia Plate (plaintiff), an orphan, went to live with her brother-in-law, George Durst (defendant), and his wife. The couple treated Plate well and regarded her almost as a daughter. Plate performed household chores and helped out in Durst’s store, never asking compensation for her services. After Plate had been with the Dursts for about five years, Durst told her that after five more years with the family, he would give the girl $1,000. On another occasion, Durst told Plate that when she married, he would give her $1,000 and a $500 diamond ring. In 1894, Plate took Mrs. Durst’s side in a family argument, and Durst threw Plate out of the house without paying her anything. Plate sued Durst for breach of contract. Plate contended that she relied on Durst’s promises to her detriment and therefore deserved compensation for her services. Durst claimed that he made the promises in jest. The trial-court jury awarded damages to Plate, and Durst appealed to the West Virginia Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Dent, J.)

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