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Gratuitous contract not enforceable, even when written in blood

Does a gratuitous promise become legally enforceable when written in blood? No, says a California appellate court, in the latest chapter of Kim v. Son. (Hat tip: Howard Bashman.)

Long-time readers of this blog may remember my July 2007 or August 2008 post about this case. It seems that Mr. Kim invested $140,000 in companies run by Mr. Son. When the companies went belly-up, Messrs. Kim and Son met over drinks to discuss the matter. Mr. Son, probably inebriated and apparently feeling bad about Mr. Kim’s loss, pricked his finger with a safety pin and wrote—in blood (and in Korean)—“Sir, forgive me. Because of my deeds, you have suffered financially.  I will repay you to the best of my ability.”

Some time later, Mr. Kim sued to enforce the blood-written promise. A California trial court held the promise unenforceable because it was not supported by consideration.  On appeal, Mr. Kim filed a brief arguing that “Blood may be thicker than water, but here it’s far weightier than a peppercorn.” But the appellate court disagreed and affirmed the trial court.

So the lesson remains the same as before: When writing a contract, forget the bloody dramatics. Write it on a computer and sign it with an ink pen.



I know this seems silly in the context of the weirdness of the story, but their could not have been consideration even if blood were a peppercorn plus one. The person who gave the blood also gave the promise. Maybe it would have worked if Mr. Son wrote the contract in Mr. Kim's blood.

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