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Hawkins v. McGee

From lawbrain.com

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.

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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.


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.

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