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Detrimental reliance is a term commonly used to force another to perform their obligations under a contract, using the theory of promissory estoppel. Promissory estoppel may apply when the following elements are proven:
Detrimental reliance must be shown to involve reliance that is reasonable, which is a determination made on an individual case-by-case basis, taking all factors into consideration. Detrimental means that some type of harm is suffered. [http://definitions.uslegal.com/d/detrimental-reliance]
Promissory estoppel is a contract law doctrine. It occurs when a party reasonably relies on the promise of another party, and because of the reliance is injured or damaged. For example, suppose a restaurant agrees to pay a bakery to make 50 pies. The bakery has only two employees. It takes them two days to make the pies, and they are unable to bake or sell anything else during that time. Then, the restaurant decides not to buy the pies, leaving the bakery with many more pies than it can sell and a loss of profit from the time spent baking them. A court will likely apply the Promissory Estoppel doctrine and require the restaurant to fulfill its promise and pay for the pies. [http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Detrimental+reliance]
Since there isn't an actual "written formal contract" and verbal contracts are binding and enforceable - if you have any evidence of the verbal agreement you have a good shot at this.
This promissory estoppel or detrimental reliance would be in the alternative pleading - you would plead fraud, breach of contract, and detrimental reliance - all alternative theories of recovery.
Because you could collect punative damages in addition to pain anguish, mental distress, etc. - fraud is your best claim against him in the way of prospective damages.
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Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX reason why I want to allege fraud is to go after him personally as well as his company. I am concerned that he has not put any assets into the company and even if I got a judgment i could not collect. It seems to me that a company cannot commit fraud, only the individuals committing the fraud under the guise of the company can. Is this true, can I claim he committed the fraud personally? What circumstances would preclude me from claiming personal liability for the alleged fraud?
A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.
Fraud is commonly understood as dishonesty calculated for advantage. A person who is dishonest may be called a fraud. In the U.S. legal system, fraud is a specific offense with certain features.
Fraud is most common in the buying or selling of property, including real estate, Personal Property, and intangible property, such as stocks, bonds, and copyrights. State and federal statutes criminalize fraud, but not all cases rise to the level of criminality. Prosecutors have discretion in determining which cases to pursue. Victims may also seek redress in civil court.
Fraud must be proved by showing that the defendant's actions involved five separate elements: (1) a false statement of a material fact,(2) knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue, (3) intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim, (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.
These elements contain nuances that are not all easily proved. First, not all false statements are fraudulent. To be fraudulent, a false statement must relate to a material fact. It should also substantially affect a person's decision to enter into a contract or pursue a certain course of action. A false statement of fact that does not bear on the disputed transaction will not be considered fraudulent.
Second, the defendant must know that the statement is untrue. A statement of fact that is simply mistaken is not fraudulent. To be fraudulent, a false statement must be made with intent to deceive the victim. This is perhaps the easiest element to prove, once falsity and materiality are proved, because most material false statements are designed to mislead.
Third, the false statement must be made with the intent to deprive the victim of some legal right.
Fourth, the victim's reliance on the false statement must be reasonable. Reliance on a patently absurd false statement generally will not give rise to fraud; however, people who are especially gullible, superstitious, or ignorant or who are illiterate may recover damages for fraud if the defendant knew and took advantage of their condition.
Finally, the false statement must cause the victim some injury that leaves her or him in a worse position than she or he was in before the fraud.
A statement of belief is not a statement of fact and thus is not fraudulent. Puffing, or the expression of a glowing opinion by a seller, is likewise not fraudulent. For example, a car dealer may represent that a particular vehicle is "the finest in the lot." Although the statement may not be true, it is not a statement of fact, and a reasonable buyer would not be justified in relying on it.
The relationship between parties can make a difference in determining whether a statement is fraudulent. A misleading statement is more likely to be fraudulent when one party has superior knowledge in a transaction, and knows that the other is relying on that knowledge, than when the two parties possess equal knowledge. For example, if the seller of a car with a bad engine tells the buyer the car is in excellent running condition, a court is more likely to find fraud if the seller is an auto mechanic as opposed to a sales trainee. Misleading statements are most likely to be fraudulent where one party exploits a position of trust and confidence, or a fiduciary relationship. Fiduciary relationships include those between attorneys and clients, physicians and patients, stockbrokers and clients, and the officers and partners of a corporation and its stockholders.
A statement need not be affirmative to be fraudulent. When a person has a duty to speak, silence may be treated as a false statement. This can arise if a party who has knowledge of a fact fails to disclose it to another party who is justified in assuming its nonexistence. For example, if a real estate agent fails to disclose that a home is built on a toxic waste dump, the omission may be regarded as a fraudulent statement. Even if the agent does not know of the dump, the omission may be considered fraudulent. This is constructive fraud, and it is usually inferred when a party is a fiduciary and has a duty to know of, and disclose, particular facts.
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