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An act of beneficial intervention in the discharge of another's legal obligation, which results in a quasi-contractual obligation, must contain the following elements: The obligation must be of such a nature that actual and prompt performance thereof is of grave public concern; the person upon whom the obligation rests must have failed or refused with knowledge of the facts to perform the obligation; or it must reasonably appear that it is impossible to perform it; and the person who intervenes must, under the circumstances, be not a mere intermeddler but a proper person to perform the duty.
The taxpayer resided more than four miles from the high school. He sought to compel the boards of education to build a high school within the four-mile limit or provide his children with transportation to and from the existing high school. The boards of education refused the request. Therefore, the taxpayer transported his children, at his own expense, to the nearest high school. At the end of the year, he filed an action against the boards of education to recover his transportation expenses. The trial court sustained the boards' demurrer to the action, and the appellate court affirmed. The taxpayer sought review.
Could the taxpayer recover his transportation expenses against the boards of education?
The court reversed and noted that the boards of education had a mandatory duty to provide schools within four miles of all school-aged children within their districts or to provide transportation to other schools. The boards, the court said, clearly violated that duty. The taxpayer, the court stated, discharged that duty on behalf of the boards by transporting the children at his expense. The court held that this act discharged the boards' legal obligation and created a quasi-contractual obligation by which the father could have recovered his expenses.