Congregation Kadimah Toras-Moshe v. DeLeo

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, 1989.

405 Mass. 365, 540 N.E.2d 691.

Dawson, pp. 192-193


Facts: The decedent promised to give the plaintiff $25,000 on his deathbed.  When the decedent died, the plaintiff sued to get the $25,000 from his estate.  The trial court found that there was no consideration because it was “an oral gratuitous pledge”.


Issue: Should the promise be enforced?


Rule: Every promise, in order to be enforceable, must have accompanying consideration by the promisee.  Consideration may consist of some performance or a return promise.


Analysis: The court finds that the decedent received no consideration for his promise, and thus the promise is not enforceable.


The court also finds that it is just that the promise not be enforced because:


1.     The congregation did not rely on the gift.

2.     It was an oral promise.

3.     It would be enforced against an estate.

4.     Thus, to enforce this promise would be against public policy.


Conclusion: The judgment of the trial court was affirmed.




The decedent appeared to be serious about his promise.  However, he did not go through any formalities which would have made his promise enforceable in the eyes of the law.


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