Webb v. McGowin
- P was a worker in a mill and, in the course of his duties, was about to drop a concrete block down to the floor below.
- Right before P dropped the block, he saw D directly in the path where the block would fall. To prevent the block from hurting/killing D, P diverted its path by falling with it and injured himself badly.
- In return for this action, D agreed to pay P $15 every two weeks until P died. D did so for several years.
- D died, and the payments stopped.
- P sued family of D.
- Lower court dismissed the case.
- Court of Appeal reversed, found for P.
- Can a promise be enforced when the consideration was a performance in the past that the party did not assent to beforehand?
- A promise can be enforced even when the consideration was a performance in the past that the party did not assent to beforehand if the performance was to save the party from serious bodily injury or death.
- The material benefit to McGowin was of infinitely more value than any financial aid he could have received.
- McGowin became morally bound to compensate Webb and did so for over 8 years.
- If the promisee cares for, improves, and preserves the property of the promisor, though done without his request, it is sufficient consideration for the promisor's subsequent agreement to pay for the service since there was a material benefit received.
- Life and preservation of the body have material, pecuniary values.
- McGowin's promise to pay for the services rendered was an affirmation of the action of Webb and presumes that the services were rendered at McGowin's request.
- McGowin agreed to pay, and Webb accepted the payment. Thus, the services rendered were not gratuitous.
- This probably isn't the way that courts view this issue now.