Varney v. Ditmars

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Varney v. Ditmars
Court New York Court of Appeals
Citation 111 N.E. 822
Date decided February 22, 1916


  • Ditmars = boss of an architectural firm
  • Varney = an employee
  • In October 1910, Ditmars hired Varney with an initial salary of $35/week
  • Shortly afterward, Varney wanted to accept a position with a different company; however, Ditmars persuaded Varney to stay put
  • In early 1911, Ditmars raised Varney's salary to $40/week
  • Additionally, Varney put in extra work in exchange for a promise of extra pay from Ditmars
  • Disregarding the objections of Ditmars, Varney stayed home on the election day in his village on November 6th 1911
  • Varney called in sick the few days following November 6th 1911
  • Ditmars fired Varney on November 11th 1911
  • Before the end of the year 1911, Ditmars paid the fired Varney $50 for a special work

Procedural History

  • Varney sued Ditmars claiming that he was owed $1,680
  • At trial, Varney (the employee) was the only witness to testify about the profit-sharing verbal contract
  • Varney lost
  • Varney lost in the Appellate Division in New York state


If an executory employment contract contains vague & in-definite terms, is it un-enforceable?


An executory employment contract based on vague & in-definite terms in un-enforceable.

While the vague verbal contract is un-enforceable, Varney may proceed with a quantum meruit claim.