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Van Brunt v. Rauschenberg
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
799 F. Supp. 1467 (1992)
William Edwin Van Brunt III (plaintiff) promised to devote his life to serving the business and personal needs of Robert Rauschenberg (defendant), an artist. In return, Rauschenberg made express promises that included paying Van Brunt’s taxes and his living and business expenses. The two men’s relationship lasted for 22 years. After Rauschenberg ended the relationship, Van Brunt sued him in federal district court on grounds of breach of contract and promissory estoppel. Van Brunt also claimed that Rauschenberg was unjustly enriched by Van Brunt’s business services, for which Rauschenberg never adequately compensated him. These services included mounting exhibitions, taking photographs, and producing audio and video tapes. Rauschenberg moved for dismissal on procedural grounds and on the grounds that (1) New York law did not recognize implied contracts arising from personal relationships, (2) the alleged promises were too uncertain and ambiguous to be enforceable, and (3) certain alleged promises lacked consideration.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Martin, J.)
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