Brief Fact Summary. P brings suit against D for payments that D promised to P after P suffered serious bodily harm in preventing a block from falling on D.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A moral obligation is a sufficient consideration to support a subsequent promise to pay where the promisor has received a material benefit.
Issue. If a promisee cares for, improves, and preserves the property of the promisor, though done without his request, is it a sufficient consideration for the promisor's subsequent agreement to pay for the service because of the material benefit received?
Held. Yes. Case is reversed and remanded.
• Life and preservation of the body have material, pecuniary values, measurable in dollars and cents.
• A moral obligation is a sufficient consideration to support a subsequent promise to pay where the promisor has received a material benefit, although there was no original duty or liability resting on the promisor.
• Here the court distinguishes this case from other cases where the consideration is a mere moral obligation. In this case, the court found that the promisor, McGowin, received a material benefit constituting a valid consideration for his promise.
Concurrence. The law should reflect justice.
Discussion. Generally, past consideration could not be consideration. Here the court makes an exception to the general rule for a type of moral obligation. However, the moral obligation does not fit into the requirement of bargained-for exchange.