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Jane Doe Deer
Jane Doe Deer, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Atty. since 1986; Plain English answers to family law, employment, landlord-tenant, & other questions
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Ted In two years Im going to sell my car. You are ...

Customer Question

Ted: In two years I''m going to sell my car. You are the only person I plan to offer it to because I know you''ll take care of it. John I look forward to the day when I can buy your car. John spent money building a place to house the car. In two years Ted sold the car to someone else. Did we have a bilateral agreement? Is this promissory estoppel?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Jane Doe Deer replied 8 years ago.

Thank you for contacting Just Answer.

Can you prove that John spent the money building a place to house THIS PARTICULAR CAR?

When the storage place was built, did Ted benefit from it? That is, did Ted store his car there until he sold it?

Did Ted offer the car to John before selling it to someone else?


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Jane Doe Deer's Legal Answers's Post: Yes, John told Ted he was building the area for that specific classic car.

No Ted did not benefit or store the car there while he was still the owner.

No Ted did not offer the car to John before selling it.

Expert:  Jane Doe Deer replied 8 years ago.

Since Ted did not benefit I think all you have is a promise, but not a contract. It would be a stronger case if a price had been agreed to and a date of sale.

In promissory estoppel, you have to reasonably rely on a promise and change your position to your detriment. I think if all you have to go on is what you've told me thus far, a court would say it wasn't reasonable to rely on Ted's mere statement (or promise).

It's also arguable that you weren't harmed because you are free to buy another, different vehicle (it's not a very good argument).

Can I be of any further help?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Hi Jane,

OK it's a promise. However, what if Harry truly believed the promise and spent all his savings to build the area for the car and labored to build the area himself for nearly two years in anticipation of purchasing the car. Is this detriment enough? Is there no way to recoup his losses. He wanted that car!
Expert:  Jane Doe Deer replied 8 years ago.

If Harry (John?) spent all his savings building the area for the car, how could he have then afforded to buy the car?

Frankly, I really don't think you'd win, but you could try Small Claims Court.

I'm sorry - I wish I had a better answer for you. Next time you rely on something someone promises you, turn it into a contract, even if the contract just says something like "in exchange for $1.00 and other valuable consideration..."


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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you. I really appreciate your help.
Expert:  Jane Doe Deer replied 8 years ago.

Thank you very much for paying and for the bonus!

Best of luck to you,


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