Congregation Kadimah Toras-Moshe v. DeLeo
405 Mass. 365, 540 N.E.2d 691 (Mass. 1989)

  • A terminally ill member of a synagogue made several oral promises (in front of witnesses) that he wanted the congregation to have $25k of his estate. The synagogue prepared to use the money to build a library in the guy’s name. Upon death, the executor of the will did not give the $25k to the synagogue, so they sued for breach of contract.
    • The guy died intestate, which means he did not have a will. So an executor (DeLeo) was appointed to divvy up his stuff.
    • Synagogue argued that naming the building after the guy was a consideration, and also that they had put into the budget which was a reliance.
  • Both the Trial Court and the Appellate Court determined that there was no legal benefit to the promisor  nor detriment to the promisee, and therefore there was no consideration.  Without written instructions, there was no contract or reliance.
    • There was no evidence that they had agreed to name the library after the guy in return for the money.  If there were, then maybe there would have been a consideration.
    • The synagogue was hoping to get the money, but had not spent any money on construction or anything.  If they had, maybe there would have been a reliance.
    • If the guy really wanted to avoid all this, he could have simply given the money to the synagogue by writing a check right there.