Under What Circumstances Can Cause of Action for Damages Based on Promissory Estoppel Be Taken ?
In Quake Construction, Inc. v. American Airlines, Inc., 141 Ill. 2d 281, 565 N.E.2d 990, 152 Ill. Dec. 308 (1990) the plaintiff filed a four-count complaint against the defendants and sought damages based upon, inter alia, promissory estoppel. Quake Construction, Inc., 141 Ill. 2d at 284-85.
The trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice, pursuant to section 2-615 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, par. 2-615). Quake Construction, Inc., 141 Ill. 2d at 285.
The appellate court reversed the dismissal, finding that the plaintiff sufficiently alleged the elements of promissory estoppel. Quake Construction, Inc., 141 Ill. 2d at 285, 310.
The supreme court began its analysis of the plaintiff's promissory estoppel claim as follows:
"Plaintiff based count II on detrimental reliance, or in other words, promissory estoppel.
To establish a claim based on promissory estoppel, plaintiff must allege and prove that:
(1) defendants made an unambiguous promise to plaintiff;
(2) plaintiff relied on such promise;
(3) plaintiff's reliance was expected and foreseeable by defendants;
(4) plaintiff relied on the promise to its detriment.
Plaintiff's reliance must be reasonable and justifiable.
Plaintiff may recover on a theory of promissory estoppel despite the absence of a contract. " Quake Construction, Inc., 141 Ill. 2d at 309-10.
The supreme court then noted that, in support of the promissory estoppel claim, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants, both orally and through a letter of intent, had notified the plaintiff that the defendants had awarded a construction contract to the plaintiff; that, upon the defendants' demand, the plaintiff had expanded its office space, hired a project manager, secured subcontractors for the project, provided the subcontractors' license numbers to the defendants, and prepared to perform the work required for the project; and that the defendants knew that the plaintiff had incurred great time and expense in performing these tasks. Quake Construction, Inc., 141 Ill. 2d at 310-11.
After reviewing these allegations, the supreme court agreed with the appellate court that the allegations were sufficient to allege a cause of action for damages based on promissory estoppel. Quake Construction, Inc., 141 Ill. 2d at 310-11.
Accordingly, the supreme court allowed the promissory estoppel claim to proceed. Quake Construction, Inc., 141 Ill. 2d at 312.