Defense Verdict that Monies Provided by Plaintiff were not Loans.
During the period of July 2008 through February 2010, the Plaintiff and the Defendant shared a personal relationship. Throughout the course of the relationship, the Plaintiff provided the Defendant with several gifts of personal property and also provided her with some degree of financial support. In addition to the gifts and support, the Plaintiff also alleged that he provided the Defendant with sums of money on three separate occasions in the amounts of $50,000, $23,000 and $20,000 (the “Disputed Monies”).
In February of 2010, the parties’ relationship came to an end. At that time, the Plaintiff demanded that the Defendant repay him the Disputed Monies. The Plaintiff testified that the Defendant promised to repay the Disputed Monies after they broke up, although the Defendant denied making such a statement. The Plaintiff maintained that the Defendant had to repay the Disputed Monies based on his contention that they were “loans.” There were no documents memorializing that the Disputed Monies were loans and, despite that there were hundreds of written communications between the parties, the word “loan” did not appear on a single document. The Defendant refused to repay any of the Disputed Monies as she denied receiving all of them and because the monies that she did receive from the Plaintiff were gifts with no attendant obligation to repay them.
The Plaintiff subsequently commenced an action against the Defendant for Breach of Contract and Promissory Estoppel seeking to recover the Disputed Monies. The matter was tried before a jury for three (3) days. The Judge found that the Plaintiff did not introduce sufficient evidence of Promissory Estoppel and only instructed the jury on the elements of Breach of Contract and Gifts. Defendant’s counsel argued that there was no evidence that the parties had entered into an enforceable contract with any terms and, even if the Plaintiff’s testimony that the Defendant promised to repay was believed, this promise was insufficient consideration to support an enforceable contract given that the monies allegedly provided was Past Consideration. The jury was then given a Special Question as to whether the Plaintiff and the Defendant had entered into a contract providing that the Disputed Monies were loans. The jury answered that question in the negative and judgment was accordingly entered for the Defendant.
Case Name: Nelson Chan v. Xiao Ming Zhao, SUCV2011-0313