The (new) legal writer blog has a post, Gratuitous contract not enforceable, even when written in blood. California Appellate Court Fourth Appellate District Division Three in Kim v. Son, No. 06CC02419, 2009 WL 597232 (Cal. App. 4th, 2009) says NO; gratuitous contract is not enforceable even when written in blood.
It seems that Mr. Kim invested $140,000 in companies run by Mr. Son. When the companies went belly-up, 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.”
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 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.