Kirksey v. Kirksey

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Kirksey v. Kirksey
Court Supreme Court of Alabama
Date decided 1845


The plaintiff (Mrs Kirksey) is the wife of the defendant's dead brother. Her husband had died in August 1840, leaving her with several children.

The plaintiff lived on public land and would have attempted to secure that land. The defendant lived 60 or 70 miles away from plaintiff's land. The defendant wrote a letter to the plaintiff stating that she should obtain preference on the land and move to where defendant lives. Defendant stated that he would let plaintiff have land on which she could raise her family.

One or 2 months after receipt of the letter, plaintiff abandoned her land and moved to defendant's land, where they were moved into comfortable houses with land to cultivate.

2 years later, defendant (Mrs Kirksey's brother-in-law) moved plaintiff and her family to uncomfortable houses in the woods & after that required her to leave the land altogether.

Procedural History

Mrs. Kirksey sues her brother-in-law for breach of contract. The jury awarded her $200. (This would be about $8,200 in 2023 US dollars.)


Was the promise made by Defendant an enforceable contract?

Was there sufficient consideration to allow enforcement of Mr Isaac Kirksey's promise?


Yes, it was.

Mr. Kirksey's provision of a homestead to Mrs. Kirksey was a gratuity.




The contract did not have anything of value bargained for, but the plaintiff incurred a detriment, which could count as a condition.


Promissory estoppel could have been used to decide in favor of Mrs. Kirksey, but this rule wasn't used by the Alabama Supreme Court.