Schnell v. Nell

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Schnell v. Nell
Court Supreme Court of Indiana
Citation 17 Ind. 29 (1861)
Date decided November 25, 1861
Case Opinions
written by Perkins


The defendant's (Schnell) wife passed away after inserting, in her will, provisions to leave $200 each to Plaintiff, (Nell) and two other parties. The wife didn't own any property nor money at the time of the will nor at the time of death, except so far as the law gave her interest in her husband's property. Because the defendant loved his wife, he entered into a contract with the plaintiff and the two other parties mentioned in the will. The contract stipulated that the three parties would pay one cent to the plaintiff. In return, the plaintiff would pay three installments of $200 each to the parties to be divided up between them.

Procedural History

Demurrer to the complaint was overruled. Defendant answered that contract held no consideration. Plaintiff's demurrer to the answer was sustained.


Whether the contract contains a consideration sufficient to make it enforceable.


"The consideration of one cent will not support the promise"


Reversed. The original demurrer should have been sustained.


Promise was only a promise of a gift. The exchange of one cent and $600 is a prima facie case of no consideration. One cent compared to $600 is clearly intended to be nominal, which means it is not consideration. That the defendant's wife was loved and industrious in the past is not consideration because they are past considerations. If the coin to be bargained was an heirloom or something otherwise "possessing an indeterminate value," then it would have constituted consideration.