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Difference between revisions of "Hawkins v. McGee"

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''Hawkins v. McGee'', 84 N.H. 114, 146 A. 641 (N.H. 1929), is a case of major importance regarding damages in contracts decided by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.  
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''Hawkins v. McGee'', 84 N.H. 114, 146 A. 641 (N.H. 1929), is a Contracts case that addresses the issue of whether a statement made was an enforceable promise.
  
''Hawkins'' is also notorious among law students for its mention in the John Jay Osborn, Jr. book, ''The Paper Chase'', and in the film version of that work, as well as its use in legal education. ''Hawkins'' is commonly referred to as the "Hairy Hand" case.  
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The case is also known for its reference in the book and movie [[The Paper Chase]]. Due to the basic case facts, it is commonly called to as the "hairy hand" case.  
  
Hawkins (P) underwent surgery to repair scar tissue on his hand resulting from burns he sustained from contact with an electrical wire. Dr. McGee (D) gave Hawkins a 100% guarantee that he would be able to repair the scar tissue by grafting skin from his chest to his hand. The surgery was unsuccessful and Hawkins was left with a hairy hand. At trial, Hawkins sought damages for breach of contract due to McGee’s failure to perform including pain and suffering. The jury entered judgment for Hawkins but the judge ordered remittitur. Hawkins refused and brought this appeal.
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{{Law school case}}<br>
 
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{{Law school case}}<br>  
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== Summary of case facts  ==
 
== Summary of case facts  ==
  
Hawkins' hand was scarred from contact with an electrical wire. He was approached by McGee, a doctor, about having the scars removed. McGee '''guaranteed''' to make the injured hand a "one hundred percent good hand". McGee used a technique of "skin grafting" that he was unfamiliar with and failed to remove the scars. Because McGee used skin from Hawkins's chest area, the graft caused the palm of Hawkins' hand to grow thick hair.  
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Plaintiff Hawkins went in for surgery to repair scar tissue that resulted from a burn he experienced nine years prior. Defendant, Doctor McGee, stated that he guaranteed one hundred percent to make the hand a "one hundred percent good hand" Plaintiff underwent the surgery, the outcome of which left him with a hairy hand.
  
Hawkins sued under a theory of breach of contract and was paid for damages from the pain from the operation and the damage the operation had caused to his hand. The issue before the court was what type of damages should be awarded.  
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Hawkins sued for breach of contract.
  
The court held that the amount of damages awarded should be equal to the difference between the value of what Hawkins was promised to receive--a "one hundred percent good hand"-- and what he in fact received--a hairy palm-- as well as any incidental losses he incurred as a result of the breach. This is known as '''expectation interest''', (or Expectation damages) which attempts to put the plaintiff into a position where they would have been had the contract not breached. The court made a point of dismissing the argument towards damages for the pain and suffering because pain and suffering were an implicit part of the contract for surgery. In sum, the plaintiff received damages in the amount of the difference between what he expected under contract--a perfect hand--and what he received--a hairy hand. Pain and suffering were found to be part of the contract, part of the operation, and therefore not part of damages or breach.  
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== Issue ==
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The primary issue in the case concerned damages. The court addressed the question of how damages should be determined for a breach of contract case.
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== Holding and Law ==
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The court determined that Hawkins was entitled to expectancy damages--to equal the difference in value between the outcome of the surgery that was promised and the actual outcome.  
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The court dismissed the plaintiff's claim for damages for pain and suffering, reasoning that Hawkins would have experienced pain and suffering even if the surgery had been successful.  
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The judgment was reversed, and damages awarded to plaintiff.
  
 
== Related cases and resources on LawBrain  ==
 
== Related cases and resources on LawBrain  ==
  
*[[:Category:Contracts]]  
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*[[:Category:Contracts]]
 
*[[:Category:Law School Case]]
 
*[[:Category:Law School Case]]
  
[[Category:Contracts]] [[Category:Hairy_Hand]] [[Category:Damages]]
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[[Category:Contracts]]
 
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[[Category:Hairy Hand]]
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[[Category:Damages]]
 
[[Category:Law School Cases]]
 
[[Category:Law School Cases]]

Revision as of 16:52, 30 August 2010

Hawkins v. McGee, 84 N.H. 114, 146 A. 641 (N.H. 1929), is a Contracts case that addresses the issue of whether a statement made was an enforceable promise.

The case is also known for its reference in the book and movie The Paper Chase. Due to the basic case facts, it is commonly called to as the "hairy hand" case.

  • This LawBrain entry is about a case that is commonly studied in law school. You can find, contribute to, and create other common 1L, 2L, and 3L cases in the Law School Cases category. And you can use the Opinon tab above to discuss hypos. For more information on editing, visit the LawBrain edit help page.

Contents

Summary of case facts

Plaintiff Hawkins went in for surgery to repair scar tissue that resulted from a burn he experienced nine years prior. Defendant, Doctor McGee, stated that he guaranteed one hundred percent to make the hand a "one hundred percent good hand" Plaintiff underwent the surgery, the outcome of which left him with a hairy hand.

Hawkins sued for breach of contract.

Issue

The primary issue in the case concerned damages. The court addressed the question of how damages should be determined for a breach of contract case.

Holding and Law

The court determined that Hawkins was entitled to expectancy damages--to equal the difference in value between the outcome of the surgery that was promised and the actual outcome.

The court dismissed the plaintiff's claim for damages for pain and suffering, reasoning that Hawkins would have experienced pain and suffering even if the surgery had been successful.

The judgment was reversed, and damages awarded to plaintiff.

Related cases and resources on LawBrain

Contributors

FindLaw AHK, FindLaw Brian, FindLaw Nira, LawMan, Sfitzpatrick