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Mills v. Wyman

From lawbrain.com

Mills v. Wyman, 20 Mass. 207 (1825) is a contracts case from Massachusetts holding that moral consideration alone is not sufficient consideration to make the promise enforceable.

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Summary of Case Facts

The defendant’s twenty-five year old son returned home from a voyage overseas, when he became very sick. The plaintiff took care of the son for fifteen days until he died. After the plaintiff spent money on defendants son, defendant learned of this and promised to pay for the expenses. Defendant decided not to pay and plaintiff brought suit for breach of contract.


Whether the Defendant’s moral obligation to pay the plaintiff is sufficient consideration to make a promise enforceable.

Holding and Law

No, the defendant’s promise to pay the expenses for his son is not enforceable because it lacks consideration. Past expense is not sufficient consideration to support a later promise to pay for the expenses. The service had already been performed by the Plaintiff before the Defendant made the promise. This was just a verbal promise to pay without any consideration. The defendant did not ask the plaintiff to care for his son, and the subsequent offer to pay by the defendant was merely nothing more than a gift promise in the eyes of the law.

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