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Mills v. Wyman

Melissa A. Hale

ProfessorMelissa A. Hale

CaseCast "What you need to know"

CaseCast –  "What you need to know"

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Mills v. Wyman
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    Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff Mills, cared for the son of Defendant Wyman when he was ill. After Son died, Defendant promised to compensate Plaintiff for the care Plaintiff provided his son. Plaintiff is bringing this action to recover the compensation promised by Defendant.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Past consideration and moral obligation alone are insufficient consideration to make a promise enforceable.

    Facts. Son, age twenty-five, suddenly became ill while returning from a voyage at sea. Plaintiff took Son in and cared for him until he died. After hearing what Plaintiff had done, Defendant offered to pay for the expenses Plaintiff incurred while caring for Son.

    Issue. Is Defendant’s promise enforceable?

    Held. No. Defendant’s promise is not enforceable because it lacks consideration. Because the services had already been performed before Defendant made the promise, they do not constitute consideration to make the promise enforceable. The Court also addresses the moral obligation of Defendant to pay for the services provided to Son. While the promise would have been enforceable if Son had been an infant, without the additional legal obligation of infancy, the moral obligation is also insufficient consideration.

    Discussion. In the present case, Defendant’s promise was not enforceable in the absence of consideration. The Court held that neither the services performed by Plaintiff prior to Defendant’s promise nor the moral obligation of Defendant to pay for Son’s care created sufficient consideration to make the promise enforceable.


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