Legal Memorandum: Damages in Promissory Estoppel Cases

Issue: How are damages determined in a promissory estoppel action in Minnesota?

Area of Law: Employee Law
Keywords: Promissory estoppel; Damages; Reliance
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 578 N.W.2d 779
Cited Statutes: 20 Minn. Prac., Business Law Deskbook § 12:7
Date: 04/01/2012

Damages in a promissory estoppel case are usually equal to the amount of money lost due to the employee’s reliance on the employer’s promise, including those arising directly from the breach as well as those that are the consequences of special circumstances known by, or reasonably supposed to have been contemplated by, the parties when the agreement was made.  20 Minn. Prac., Business Law Deskbook § 12:7 (citing Grouse v. Group Health Plan, Inc., 306 N.W.2d 114 (Minn. 1981) at 116).  Generally speaking, in the absence of an independent tort claim, emotional distress damages are not recoverable in a promissory estoppel action.  Id.; see also Deli v. University of Minn., 578 N.W.2d 779 (Minn. Ct. App. 1998) (also holding that because promissory estoppel sounds in contract, emotional distress damages are not generally available unless the plaintiff can establish an independent tort).  Promissory estoppel damages do, however, include future as well as past losses.  20 Minn. Prac., Business Law Deskbook § 12:7.


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