Are we obligated to refund airline tickets purchased by an employer who was considering hiring my husband?

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Are we obligated to refund airline tickets purchased by an employer who was considering hiring my husband?

My husband is a doctor and a potential employer wanted our family to come for a site visit. However, after careful consideration we decided that will not be the best situation for our family. The employer had already purchased the airline tickets. Are we obligated to pay the company the money for the flight tickets? No contracts were signed.

Asked on September 20, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, in this case, you would have to reimburse the potentional or would-be employer for the tickets or refund the tickets to it. That's because in reasonable reliance on your families' promise to consider a job and visit the site in regards to same, they bought the tickets. Furthermore, it was--or should have been--either known or obvious to you that they would do this only because they though your husband was coming to view the site and consider the job. When party A does something to its detriment--like lay out money for airfare--in reasonable reliance on a promise made by party B, and party B either knew or reasonably should have known that party A would take that step/incur that cost, then even without a contract, party A can recover the cost of its reliance from party B. This is called either "detrimental reliance" or more properly "promissory estoppel."


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