Levine v. Blumenthal

Supreme Court of New Jersey, 1936.

117 N.J.L. 23, 186 A. 457.

Dawson, pp. 286-288


Facts: The plaintiff rented out a storefront to the defendants.  The defendants fell on hard times and couldn’t pay the increased rent the second year.  The parties discussed lowering the rent, and it ended up that the defendants paid the lower rent for the second year.  The plaintiff sued for the difference between the rent received and the rent originally agreed to.  The plaintiff prevailed at trial and the defendants appealed.


Issue: Is the amendment to the contract enforceable?


Rule: An agreement to amend an earlier contract must rest on “new and independent consideration” in order to be enforceable.  Performance of an existing legal duty can never constitute consideration for a new contract.


Analysis: The court finds that there was no consideration for the amended agreement, and that the payment and acceptance of part of the original rent is not sufficient to constitute consideration.


Conclusion: The judgment was affirmed and the defendants had to pay in full.


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