Legally Bound By A Promise

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - When are you bound to do something just because you promised to do it?

I’d give my left arm for peace and quiet these days. But if my kids stop making so much darn noise, do I actually need to give them my arm? You’d reasonably assume that the answer is no. But what does the law say when someone makes an offer – even an extremely crazy, overgenerous offer – and then someone gives him what he asked for?

Hip hop/R&B artist Ryan Leslie found out the answer the hard way. When his laptop, along with the hard drive on which he had stored his valuable music videos and intellectual property, disappeared, he said that he’d pay a million dollars for its return. Guess what? A man found it and gave it back to him, and then sued when he refused to pay the million dollars.

According to the judge “[I]f a person chooses to make extravagant promises . . . he probably does so because it pays him to make them, and, if he has made them, the extravagance of the promises is no reason in law why he should not be bound by them.”

Next time you offer your left arm for an anything, remember Ryan Leslie who had to pay an arm and a leg for his promise.

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