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Law School Case Brief

Hawkins v. McGee - 84 N.H. 114, 146 A. 641 (1929)


The only losses that can be said fairly to come within the terms of a contract are such as the parties must have had in mind when the contract was made, or such as they either knew or ought to have known would probably result from a failure to comply with its terms.


Defendant performed an operation on plaintiff's hand. Defendant stated that the operation would make plaintiff's hand perfect. Plaintiff was dissatisfied with the results of the operation and sued defendant for breach of contract alleging that defendant provided a warranty that his hand would be perfect. Judgment was entered in favor of plaintiff. Defendant appealed. The trial court found that plaintiff's case was properly submitted to the jury because defendant's statement constituted a warranty in that plaintiff believed the statement, and the statement induced plaintiff to consent to the operation. However, the court reversed the judgment and ordered a new trial because the jury was improperly instructed that plaintiff's damages included both pain and suffering and the ill effects of the operation. 


Was the additional award of damages granted for the pain and suffering of the plaintiff proper?




The true measure of the plaintiff's damage in the present case is the difference between the value to him of a perfect hand or a good hand, such as the jury found the defendant promised him, and the value of his hand in its present condition, including any incidental consequences fairly within the contemplation of the parties when they made their contract. Damages not thus limited, although naturally resulting, are not to be given. The pain resulting from the operation was a legal detriment suffered by plaintiff in consideration for the contract.

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