Cotnam v. Wisdom
- Wisdom (administrator for D) being sued by Dr. Cotnam (P).
- D was thrown from a street car, knocked unconscious, and received serious injuries.
- A spectator summoned the P to assist D. P performed an operation to try to save D but failed.
- D was never conscious and could not assent to the actions of P.
- P sued D for payment for medical services rendered.
- P won in lower court.
- Reversed on appeal, D wins on grounds unrelated to the contract.
- Can a party receive restitution for medical services rendered in good faith to another party while that other party is incapacitated or in some other way unable to assent?
- A party may recover for medical services rendered in good faith to another party while that other party is incapacitated or in some other way unable to assent.
- The contract in question was an "implied" or "quasi" contract made since the D was unable to assent or provide a return promise.
- From Sceva v. True, "A person utterly bereft of all sense and reason by the sudden strong of an accident or disease may be held liable, in assumpsit, for necessaries furnished to him in good faith while in that unfortunate and helpless position."
- The financial condition of a patient cannot be considered where there is a no contract and recovery is sustained on a legal fiction which raises a contract. The services are the same whether the patient is poor or rich.
- It was improper for the jury to know that the estate would go to collateral heirs (nieces and nephews). (Reason for reversal!)
- Nothing important.
- Public policy (what are our relational requirements in society?)