Hanners v. Balfour Guthrie, Inc

In Hanners v. Balfour Guthrie, Inc., 564 So.2d 412 (Ala. 1990), the Court was presented with an issue of promissory fraud. In Hanners, the plaintiff, a peanut processor/seller, alleged that the defendant, a commodities dealer, had failed to pay for its peanut purchases within the time stated in their contract. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant had opened its account with the plaintiff with a present intent not to honor its contract obligation regarding time for payment and with the intent of deceiving the plaintiff. The Court stated: " 'The only basis upon which one may recover for fraud, where the alleged fraud is predicated on a promise to perform or abstain from some act in the future . . . is when the evidence shows that, at the time . . . the promises of future action or abstention were made, the promisor had no intention of carrying out the promises, but rather had a present intent to deceive. If such intent is not substantiated by the evidence, the fraud claim should not be submitted to the jury. The failure to perform, alone, is not evidence of intent not to perform at the time the promise was made. If it were, a mere breach of contract would be tantamount to fraud.' " (Hanners, 564 So.2d at 414.)