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Harrington v. Taylor - 225 N.C. 690, 36 S.E.2d 227 (1945)


There is no consideration by law for a promise to reimburse plaintiff for injuries suffered by her, when plaintiff saved defendant from serious injury or death by interposing herself between defendant and his assailant in a fight.


Defendant Taylor,had assaulted his wife, who then took refuge in plaintiff Harrington’s house. The next day, defendant gained access to the house and began another assault upon his wife, who knocked defendant down with an axe. The wife was about to cut defendant's head open when plaintiff intervened and caught the axe as it was descending, injuring her hand while preventing the axe from hitting defendant. Defendant orally promised to pay plaintiff her damages for her injured hand. After paying a small sum, defendant failed to pay anything more. Plaintiff sought to recover of defendant upon a promise made by him. Defendant demurred to the complaint as not stating a cause of action, and the demurrer was sustained. Plaintiff appellant Harrington appealed.


Was there a consideration recognized by law as sufficient to support the promise defendant Taylor made to injured plaintiff Harrington?




The Supreme Court of North Carolina sought to determine whether there was a consideration recognized by law as sufficient to support defendant's promise to the injured plaintiff. The Court held that however much defendant should be impelled by common gratitude to alleviate plaintiff's misfortune, a humanitarian act of this kind, voluntarily performed, was not such consideration as would entitle plaintiff to recover at law. The Court affirmed the judgment.

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