In 2013, Peter Parker graduated from Prestigious University (“PU”). Even though he graduated toward the bottom of his class, family connections enabled him to land a great job at Do We Cheatem & How, a management consulting firm (the “Firm”) located in New York. After three years, it was clear that Peter had little (or no) hope for advancement. Recently, rumors started to spread that the Firm was about to lay off 500 consultants and that Peter’s name was on the list of potential layoffs. Peter started sending out resumes hoping he could find a job before losing the one he had. Weeks passed without receiving any response to his applications. Peter began to feel like a spider dangling over a hot fire – holding on by the slenderest of threads.
Once again, Peter’s family came to the rescue. Peter’s mom (Scarlet) convinced Mary Jane, President of Elite Advertising Services (“Elite”) in Seattle, WA to interview Peter. Elite scheduled a virtual interview for Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 9am. As Peter was about to enter the meeting, he had a sudden and immediate need for a quick trip to the bathroom. On his way out of the bathroom, he tripped over the family dog (Muttley). He ended up ripping his suit and cracking his watch. It was too late to change so Peter quickly signed into the meeting. Needless to say, Peter looked like a mess. On top of everything else, he was fifteen minutes late for the interview.
Mary felt obligated to provide a full interview. Mary thought she made it clear to Peter that she was not interested in hiring him. However, because Mary did not want to offend Peter’s mom, Mary smiled throughout the interview and asked several substantive questions, including: (1) “If you were offered the job, how soon could you start?” Peter answered: “As soon as you need me”. (2) “For what kind of position do you feel you are best qualified?” Peter answered: “I’m happy to start at the bottom and work my way up!” (3) “What kind of salary do you think you deserve?” At first Peter stumbled, “Let’s see. Hmm. Umm. I’d kind of like around $100,000 per year”. (4) At the end of his interview, Mary told Peter: “I look forward to working with you. Please let me know if you need any help preparing for your move to Seattle.”
Peter was so excited that he quit his job, gave 30-day notice to his landlord, rented an apartment in Seattle and moved there on January 3, 2017. After settling in, Peter called Mary to ask if he could start his job on January 9, 2017. Mary Jane was quite surprised to hear from Peter and told him “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I never offered you a job and there is no job available for you at Elite.”
Peter, who struggled from numerous health conditions, stopped breathing and collapsed. After a quick trip to the Emergency Room, Peter was transferred to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital. On January 5, 2017, Peter was declared to be legally insane. After years of intensive, in patient treatment, Peter fully recovered from his mental breakdown on March 2, 2020. The following day, Peter went to see the family attorney (Mr. Ock) to bring suit against Mary Jane and Elite. Mr. Ock told Peter he could not sue for breach of contract because a contract was never created. “However” said Mr. Ock, “I think we have a pretty good case based on promissory estoppel”. Working on behalf of Peter, Mr. Ock filed a lawsuit against Mary Jane and Elite Advertising Services. The lawsuit was filed in the King County Superior Court.
What is the likely result? Your analysis should explore, in detail, the arguments each party will make.
As part of this analysis, you must use the following rule of law:
Rule: Promissory estoppel means that a person will be prevented (estopped) from denying liability for breaching his or her promise, when another person reasonably relied upon that promise and justice requires that the promise be enforced. The party asserting promissory estoppel has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, each of the following:
(1) Mary made a promise of employment to Peter;
(2) Mary should reasonably have expected the promise to cause Peter to change position;
(3) Peter actually did change his position;
(4) Peter justifiably relied on Mary’s promise; and,
(5) Injustice can be avoided only if the promise is enforced.
(NOTE: This last point is often referred to as “Unjust Enrichment”).
Your analysis must be in the form of an IRAC (i.e., Issue; Rule; Application; Conclusion). If you are unfamiliar with the IRAC method, please review the sample essays posted in this week’s module (the samples were written by students and represent what an “A” or “A-” paper looks like), as well as the following IRAC sources:
PLEASE NOTE: THIS ASSIGNMENT MAY BE COMPLETED INDIVIDUALLY OR AS A GROUP. That said, this project is designed to take approximately 30 – 40 hours to complete. This includes the time it takes to research, read, write and proofread. Accordingly, you may find working in a group is the more efficient option. If you choose to work on this assignment as a group, groups may be as small as two members, but no more than 4 members. You are expected to organize your own group. Each member of the group must submit the same paper. The names of each member of your group must be at the top of the paper (formatted as noted below), and all members agree to receive the same grade. Whether you complete this assignment as a group or individually, you may not discuss any aspect of this assignment with any other person; except, members of your group, your instructor or a librarian (for assistance with research).
Paper Format: THE PAPER SHOULD BE AT LEAST 1500 WORDS AND NOT MORE THAN 1700 WORDS (12 POINT FONT). All papers must be uploaded as a Word document. In addition, you must have: (1) A separate title page, and (2) A separate page for your bibliography listing all sources consulted. NOTE: The title page and bibliography are not part of the minimum word count.
Outside research is required. You must incorporate research from at least four scholarly sources (e.g., case-law, statutes, legal journals, etc.). If you are not certain what qualifies as a scholarly source, you may want to consult a college librarian. If you conduct internet research, scholarly sources usually end with a .gov or .edu extension. Popular internet sources (e.g., wikipedia, law firm websites, etc.) do not count as scholarly sources. Such popular sources may be consulted for informational purposes, but may not be cited to or quoted from in the paper. All quotations must be carefully noted. Quotations should also be limited to no more than 15% of the paper. You must cite all relevant sources and make clear the extent to which outside sources were used. Words or ideas that require citation include, but are not limited to, all hard copy or electronic publications. Full blown citations are not necessary, but must contain sufficient information to identify the source (i.e., full name), the author(s) and the date.
The research sources identified below will provide you with most (if not all) of the information you will need for for your analysis. Accordingly, you must examine each of the following sources:
Primary Sources (e.g., cases, statutes, jury instructions, law review articles:
NOTE: The Darland case includes a very nice discussion of unjust enrichment.
NOTE: The Klinke case is very good. I especially recommend reading Part II of the case – it provides a brief, but helpful, explanation of the injustice requirement.
NOTE: Havens is a great case. I highly recommend reading the section labelled “PROMISSORY ESTOPPEL”.
NOTE: The Restatement (Second) of Contracts is a very long document (too long to read as part of this assignment). Accordingly, I highly recommend reading page 7 – on the Meaning of Terms. You are, of course, welcome to read more.
NOTE: This source is a database of cases and statutes. It allows you to search by name, subject or citation. Because this sources is a database, you will not cite to it. Instead, you will cite to any case, statute, etc. that you locate in the database.
NOTE: These sources are not to be cited to or quoted from, but provide helpful general information that may lead you to useful academic sources:
Your textbook is also a good source for general information, but is not designed to provide an in depth analysis of Washington law. You may cite to and quote from the textbook (where relevant) but the textbook does not qualify as one of the four minimum required sources. It may, however, count as your fifth, or sixth, or seventh (etc.) source.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need further assistance.