Was the Oral Agreement Illegal and Just An Attempt to Extort Money

In In re Yao, 661 N.Y.S.2d 199, 231 A.D.2d 346 (1997), an attorney brought a breach of contract action against Mr. Bult, a wealthy financial executive with whom he had a brief, intimate relationship. In his complaint, the attorney alleged that he and Bult had entered into an enforceable oral contract pursuant to which Bult agreed to pay him $ 10,000 per month for life in exchange for his promise not to publicize certain embarrassing information about Bult's personal life. Bult refused to abide by such an agreement and the attorney filed the complaint. Bult moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action upon which relief could be granted. Yao, 661 N.Y.S.2d at 200-201, 231 A.D.2d at 347-48. The trial court found the alleged oral agreement to be illegal, finding it "nothing more than an attempt to extort money from an apparently wealthy but vulnerable individual." Yao, 661 N.Y.S.2d at 201, 231 A.D.2d at 348