Hamer v. Sidway

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Hamer v. Sidway
Court Court of Appeals of New York
Citation 124 N.Y. 538, 27 N.E. 256 (1891)
Date decided 1891

Facts: Plaintiff, at the age of about 15, received a promise from his uncle for $5000 if he abstained from alcohol, tobacco, swearing, and playing billiards and cards for money until his 21st birthday. Upon Plaintiff's 21st Birthday, Plaintiff wrote uncle to tell him he performed his part of the agreement. Uncle responded, saying that he would give plaintiff the promised $5000, but not yet, because the plaintiff would probably blow it on cigarettes, booze, card games, and the local pool sharks. Uncle would keep it until Plaintiff is deemed ready, and at that time, Plaintiff would receive money plus interest. Two years later, Uncle died without having fulfilled promise.

Issue: Was the contract valid?

Holding: A promise to give up smoking, etc. is a legal detriment because you are abandoning something that you have a legal right to do. Thus, there was consideration and the contract was valid.