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Webb v. McGowin - 232 Ala. 374, 168 So. 199 (1936)

Rule:

If a benefit be material and substantial, and was to the person of the promisor rather than to his estate, it is within the class of material benefits which he has the privilege of recognizing and compensating either by an executed payment or an executory promise to pay.

Facts:

Plaintiff promisee was permanently injured while saving the promisor's life. The promisor agreed to pay plaintiff a monetary amount every two weeks during the remainder of plaintiff's life. The promisor complied with this agreement up to the time of his death. Plaintiff brought a complaint against defendants, the executors of the deceased promisor's estate, to enforce the promise and to continue to receive payments. The trial court granted the executors' demurrer to the complaint. On appeal, the court of appeals reversed, holding that the contract was enforceable because the injury to the plaintiff was sufficient legal consideration for the promisor's agreement to pay.  The executors then filed a petition for certiorari to the Court of Appeals to review and revise the judgment and decision.

Issue:

Should the petition for certiorari be granted?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The court denied the executors' petition for a writ of certiorari to the court of appeals in the promisee's action to enforce the deceased promisor's promise. The opinion of the court of appeals recognized and applied a distinction between a supposed moral obligation of the promisor, based upon some refined sense of ethical duty, without material benefit to him, and one in which such a benefit did in fact occur. The court agreed with the court of appeals that if the benefit was material and substantial, and was to the person of the promisor rather than to his estate, it was within the class of material benefits that he had the privilege of recognizing and compensating, either by an executed payment or an executory promise to pay. The reason was emphasized when the compensation was not only for the benefits, which the promisor received, but also for the injuries either to the property or person of the promisee by reason of the service rendered.

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