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Levine v. Blumenthal

(1936)

New Jersey Supreme Court - 186 A. 457, 117 N.J.L. 23

tl;dr:

A landlord and tenants entered into a lease agreement, but halfway through the tenants asked to pay less because of economic hardship. The landlord later sued them for unpaid rent.

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Case Summary

In Levine v. Blumenthal (1936), the New Jersey Supreme Court dismissed a claim based on a promise to reduce the rent of a lease. The case, involved a landlord (the plaintiff) who sued the defendants (Blumenthal and her business partner) for breach of contract after they failed to pay the full rent for the second year of a two-year lease. The defendants argued that there was a contract based on the plaintiff's promise to accept lower payments until their business improved. The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendants appealed.

On appeal, the court affirmed the decision, holding that there was no valid and enforceable contract between the parties. The court applied the rule that consideration must be either a benefit to the promisor or a detriment to the promisee. The court found that the plaintiff's promise to accept lower payments did not constitute sufficient consideration to support the defendants' promise to pay the full rent for the second year of the lease. The court stated that an agreement altering the terms of a previous contract must rest upon new and independent consideration. The court also noted that there was no accord and satisfaction because there was no consideration.

This case matters because it established a precedent for rejecting claims based on promises without consideration. It demonstrates how courts interpret and apply the concept of consideration as an essential element of a valid contract. It also highlights how courts distinguish between contracts and gratuitous promises.

ICRAIssue, Conclusion, Rule, Analysis for Levine v. Blumenthal

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Facts & HoldingLevine v. Blumenthal case brief facts & holding

Facts:Landlord Levine and Blumenthal, a tenant, entered into a two-year...

Holding:The secondary agreement at issue is not supported by valid...

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Levine v. Blumenthal | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: Heher, J.
Level 1
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The plaintiff leased store premises to the defendants for two years with an option to renew for three more years. Due to adverse business conditions, defendants paid rent at a reduced rate of $175 per month for eleven months of the second year, which was accepted by the plaintiff. Defendants did not exercise the option to renew and left the last month's rent unpaid. Plaintiff brought an action to recover the unpaid balance of the rent reserved by the lease for the second year. The District Court judge found that a subsequent oral agreement lacked lawful consideration and was therefore ineffective. The primary contract can be modified by verbal agreement, except when the substituted performance has been fully executed and accepted. However, for a subsequent agreement to create a binding contract, it must be supported by a new and independent consideration. A promise to do what the promisor is already legally bound to do is not a valid consideration. Any consideration, no matter how insignificant, is sufficient to satisfy the rule that a subsequent agreement must be supported by a new and independent consideration. The test is whether there is an additional consideration adequate to support an ordinary contract, and it must consist of something that the debtor was not legally bound to do or give.

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