Webb v. McGowin

Court of Appeals of Alabama, 1935.

27 Ala.App. 82, 168 So. 196.

Dawson, pp. 235-238


Facts: The plaintiff saved the life of the late McGowin, and in doing so was severely and permanently injured.  In gratitude, McGowin promised to pay the plaintiff money for the rest of his (Webb’s) life.  When McGowin died, the payments stopped coming.  Webb sued the executors of McGowin’s estate for all the missed payments.  The defendants demurred and the trial court sustained the demurrer, declaring a nonsuit.  The plaintiff appealed.


Issue: Did the act of saving McGowin’s life constitute consideration for McGowin’s subsequent promise to pay Webb for life?


Rule: “[A] moral obligation is sufficient consideration to support a subsequent promise to pay where the promisor has received a material benefit”.


Analysis: The court finds that McGowin’s moral obligation was sufficient consideration and his contract to pay Webb was binding.


Conclusion: The court found that the trial court erred in sustaining the defendants’ demurrer, and the case was reversed and remanded.


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