Even though a binding and valid contract may have the duties and expectations written out in black and white, courts are willing to allow a party to assert a claim for promissory estoppel. Check out the excerpt below for a summary of the concept of promissory estoppel and how it may apply to a contract dispute.
“The concept of promissory estoppel provides a remedy for persons who detrimentally rely upon the promises of others and are injured thereby.” Bunkoff General Contractors v. Dunham Elec., 300 A.D.2d 976 (3rd Dept. 2002). Whether a defendant made a clear and unambiguous promise and whether the plaintiff reasonably relied upon it are questions of fact which preclude summary judgment. Id. Similarly, equitable estoppel, is imposed in the interest of fairness to prevent fraud or injustice upon someone who relied the opposing party’s conduct and was misled into acting upon the belief that enforcement of rights would not be sought. Readoco, Inc. v. Marine Midland Bank, 81 F.3d 295, 301 (2d Cir. 1996).
Courts have allowed a party to assert a promissory estoppel claim even though there is a valid contract between the parties. MacDraw, Inc. v. CIT Group Equipment Financing, Inc. 157 F.3d 956, 960-61 (2d Cir. 1998) (considering promissory estoppel claim while dismissing unjust enrichment claim as quasi-contract theory superseded by written agreement).
If you have any legal questions or need help with promissory estoppel, please contact Attorney Scott Lanin at (212) 764-7250 x 201 or use the contact form in the right sidebar.