Janice vs Mary – Consideration and promissory estoppelJanice vs Mary –

Using IRAC and 1 peer scholarly source.
Address the following:
Janice has been invited to appear on a home improvement show for the remodel of her summerhouse in Maine. Janice asks Mary to wallpaper her house in anticipation of the home improvement, and requests expensive custom wallpaper and a very intricate design application, for which the wallpaper would cost $5000, plus labor. Mary, excited for a very large job for her solo business, orders the intricate wallpaper and blocks off her calendar for the amount of time it will take to complete the job. After the paper has been ordered, Mary asks some friends to be available to complete the job in time for the show. Janice is informed that she will not be on the show and notifies Mary that she will not need the wallpaper.Does Mary have a case for reimbursement?
Under what legal theory might she prevail and what are her damages, if any?
What ethical theories might be applicable?


The issue is whether Mary has a case for reimbursement of the amount and expenses associated with the fulfillment of her agreement responsibilities.


The first consideration is determining whether a contract is enforceable. Oral contracts are enforceable in certain circumstances only. For instance, in the sale of goods amounting to over $500 in total, the agreement must be in writing. However, this rule does not apply to specialty goods. If a manufacturer or a seller agrees to provide specialty goods to a client, once the production begins, the contract may be enforceable without a written agreement. Specialty goods are not suitable for sale to others in the ordinary course of the seller’s business.

A promise can be enforceable. According to the doctrine of promissory estoppel, when a promisor makes a clear and definite promise on which the promisee relies, the promisor is bound by the promise (Alden, 2016; Harris, 2018). It requires; that the promise was clear and definite, the promisee justifiably relied on the promise, the promisee’s reliance was substantial, and enforcing the promise serves the best interests of justice. If the doctrine of estoppel is applicable, the court will issue the appropriate reliance damages as a result of the failure to perform on the contract.


The agreement between Janice and Mary is enforceable because the latter relies on this promise to purchase the customer wallpaper and make costly plans for the performance of the contractual requirements. In this case, having performed part of the agreement (purchased the expensive wallpaper), Mary has a case for reimbursement. The promissory estoppel theory will prevail because Mary relied on Janice’s promise to perform her part of the contract. The court could award damages, in this case, to return Mary to her initial position before the contract.


Having considered the enforceability of the contract, Mary could be awarded compensatory damages amounting to $500 (amount spent on purchasing the wallpaper), and/or reliance damages to return Mary to her position the economic position occupied before she acted in reasonable reliance on the promise. Reliance damages could include the potential earnings from other jobs during the period spent and from canceled commitments.

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Alden, E. (2016). Promissory Estoppel and the Origins of Contract Law. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2830734

Harris, A. P. (2018). The Doctrine of Promissory Estoppel in an Arm’s Length Commercial Transaction in Tennessee: A Primer. U. Mem. L. Rev.49, 813.

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