Law School Case Brief
Lawrence v. Ingham Cty. Health Dep't Family Planning/Pre-Natal Clinic - 160 Mich. App. 420, 408 N.W.2d 461 (1987)
Facts giving rise to a cause of action for negligence may also give rise to a cause of action for breach of contract. Where this occurs, the doctrine of governmental immunity bars only the negligence claim and does not prevent the party from pursuing the breach of contract claim based on the same facts.
Plaintiff parents filed a three-count complaint following the birth of their daughter, Jessica Lawrence. According to the complaint, plaintiff mother received routine prenatal treatment with defendant Ingham County Health Department Family Planning/Pre-Natal Clinic. When the mother appeared at defendant St.Lawrence Hospital in labor, she underwent an emergency Caesarean section. Jessica Lawrence suffered fetal distress and prenatal asphyxia, which plaintiffs theorized could have been prevented by applying standard procedures for postmature fetuses. Following the delivery, Jessica was resuscitated and transferred to defendant Edward W. Sparrow Hospital. She sustained permanent, serious brain damage. original complaint alleged various acts of negligence on the part of the individual physicians, the clinic and the two hospitals. Plaintiff parents and child filed a complaint alleging negligence and breach of contract, which a Michigan trial court granted summary disposition to defendants. The negligence action was dismissed on the basis of governmental immunity, the judgment of which the parents do not contest; however, the parents challenged the summary judgment dismissing the breach of contract claim.
Was there an implied in fact contract created between the parties?
The parents' assertion of an implied in fact contract failed for lack of consideration. A promise by the parents to follow the instructions given by the clinic along with the clinics promise to provide prenatal care was insufficient to establish an implied in fact contract. The lack of mutuality of obligation translated into a lack of consideration. The promise to follow the advice of the clinic was not a legally enforceable promise and could not provide consideration for an implied contract.
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