Webb v. McGowin

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I am not sure whether this question was addressed in class already since I missed it yesterday, but I was wondering if anyone has an opinion on whether, if he _had_ let the pine block drop, Webb would have been liable for McGowin's resulting injury.

My second question is, _assuming_ that Webb would have been liable, does anyone think that the decision in the case should change? (If a doctor accidentally poisons someone and then saves his/her life, and the person offer to pay the doctor, should the doctor be allowed to collect? Would it make a difference whether the person knew the doctor's part in the accident?)

-- Anonymous, October 07, 1998


At least in response to the first question I think the answer is no. The reason why Webb was allowed to collect money was because a "subsequent promise obviated that objection [of there being no previous request]; it being equivalent to a previous request" (p 176, reasoning from Boothe v. Fitzatrick). I believe the decision in the case rests upon a subsequent promise. It is the promise and the benefit to McGowin that creates the obligation. I believe both are needed. Furthermore, I don't know if society is ready for a law requiring one to risk their own life to save that of another and the extreme number of times that we hear about callous people ignoring people's pleas for help leads me to believe that there is no law requiring it. In answer to your second question . . . .???

-- Anonymous, October 12, 1998

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