Hurley v. Eddingfield Question : LUSENET : Lessig's Contracts : One Thread

The case says that decedent's messenger "tendered [to Eddingfield] his fees for his services...." Doesn't that mean that the doctor was paid? If so, wouldn't that make it a contract, requiring either the doctor's services or damages?

My gut feeling is that by "tendered" the court means that the money was offered, not exchanged. But let's for a moment suppose it HAD been exchanged (completely independent of the above paragraph). This, to me, would be an excellent example of the limitations of the economic assumption that breaches of contract lead to the greater good. Assuming that decedent was not a blight on the face of humanity, the doctor's refusal to treat him (which activity was replaced by the mere repose of the doctor) did not lead to the greater good at all.

Anyway, what do y'all think "tendered" means?


-- Anonymous, November 01, 1998


response to Hurley v. Eddingfield Question

Mr. Stimers, I do believe your interpretation of "tendered" is the correct one. If money was actually exchanged, that would signal to me that a contract was formed and then the ruling would make no sense.

More importantly, I would like to discuss the proposition that this physician hath no soul. I can just imagine the situation, the messenger arrives huffing and puffing at the door and explains how one of the physician's long-time patients is about to die if not treated immediately but the physician says, "I would, but Married With Children is on the tube and I can't bear to miss a second of the witty verbal jabs that are exchanged between Al and Peggy Bundy...maybe next time."

Does the court have no remedy for this? Leaving the Hippocratic Oath aside, shouldn't the court decide that certain people have responsibilities to society? I know the response will be that we shouldn't force people into employment destroys personal liberty. Nevertheless, this is a case where the patient had a long standing relationship with this particular physician and surely came to expect that he would be there in his/her time of need.

I can also foresee a response explaining that society can better exact punishment upon the physician by ruining his reputation throughout the area. Maybe, but what good does this do the decedent (or his/her heirs). Just wondering what ya' think.


-- Anonymous, November 01, 1998

The Doctor as Evil Incarnate

Mr. Theiss, you've made some fantastic points (especially the "Mr. Stimers is most likely correct" one--I thought that had a great deal of merit). I, too, am concerned about the doctor's preference for indigence over aid & succor. My immediate speculation was that the doctor believed himself to be Christ Jesus, and was planning to let his erstwhile patient perish, then raise him from the dead three days later.

The doctor's potential delusions of Heavenly Sonship aside, the county prosecutor in all of us cries out for some legal penalty to be heaped upon the already-assessed penalties of social opprobrium and Burning in Hell. Not being an expert in medical law, I nevertheless believe that this situation has been addressed; modern hospitals, as far as I know, are required to treat all comers. The question becomes one of whether or not we want France-style "Good Samaritan" laws. And if we do, who bears the liability when someone's attempt to help a fellow human goes horribly wrong?

I'm going to end this post now, before I work in any more (potentially blasphemous) Biblical references.


-- Anonymous, November 01, 1998

The evil patient

I know we have condemned this doctor and assumed that as the case said, he didn't have a good reason to not help. But what if in fact, the doctor didn't want to help because he had discovered that the patient had done something terrible. What if the patient had raped the doctor's daughter. Do we want to force this doctor to help this patient? Especially considering he is likely to lose an instrument or two during the operation? This is obviously the extreme case, but I think the oath and professional sanctions are the appropriate response rather than societal enforcement of personal servitudes.

Even if we don't think the extreme case existed, what if the doctor was just plastered? We don't want drunk docs using knives or handing out pills do we?

Just a thought.

-- Anonymous, November 02, 1998

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