King v. Boston University

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King v. Boston University
Court Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Date decided April 12, 1995


In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968) sent his collected papers to Boston University.

Mrs. King, his widow, tried to get the King papers back after his death.

Procedural History

In 1987, Mrs. King sued Boston University ("BU") for conversion. She claimed that the King estate held title to the papers. Mrs. King loses.


Can a charitable pledge be enforceable if a party promises to give property to a charitable institution & there is consideration (or reliance) on that promise?


Mrs King argued that the 1964 King letter isn't a sufficient promise to establish a charitable pledge.


Yes. If there is evidence of both donative intent & consideration (or reliance) on that promise, a charitable pledge can be enforceable.


Being accepting and caring for King's bailed papers, BU assumed the duty of care as bailee.


A bailment is the transfer of property from 1 party to another in accordance with (IAW) the 1st party's direction.


See also[edit | edit source]

*Congregation Kadimah Toras-Moshe v. DeLeo