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Promissory Estoppel versus Breach of Contract Claims

Promissory estoppel and breach of contract are generally inconsistent remedies. Promissory estoppel requires that there must have been (1) a promise, (2) on which the party seeking to recover relied to his or her detriment, (3) in a way the person making the promise expected or should have expected, and (4) the reliance resulted in an injustice which can be cured only by enforcement of the promise. Hamra v. Magna Group, Inc., 956 S.W.2d 934, 939 (Mo. Ct. App. 1997). It is an equitable remedy in which the court prevents a party from taking inconsistent positions/promises. 

Breach of contract, on the other hand, exists when there is a violation of the express terms of an agreed upon contract. Breach of contract is not an equitable remedy. If one has a breach of contract claim, then you cannot typically file an accompanying promissory estoppel claim. Specifically, promissory estoppel is not available when an unambiguous contract exists that covers the issue for which damages are sought. Halls Ferry Investmetns, Inc. v. Smith, 985 S.W.2d 848, 853 (Mo. Ct. App. 1998). Promissory estoppel cannot be used to create rights not included with the contract. Contact with questions pertaining to promissory estoppel and/or breach of contract litigation.