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Name Hawkins v. McGee 84 N.H. 114, 146 A.

641 (1929) Supreme Court of New Hampshire Parties The plaintiff George Hawkins sued Dr. Edward McGee. Relevant Facts George Hawkins had a considerable amount of scar tissue on his hand, caused by a sever burn from an electrical wire. Dr. McGee promised in 1922 to restore Hawkins hand to perfect condition through skin-grafting surgery. Instead Hawkins hand became permanently disfigured and crippled. Evidence shows that the Hawkins had to be coerced into the surgery (they were told by a skin specialist in Montreal not to do anything to restore the hand, the doctor emphasized social problems, he claimed to have done the surgery beforeetc.) There was much pain and suffering felt by Hawkins, and skin was taken from his chest (rather than the promised thigh). Procedural History Trial by jury and verdict for the plaintiff in the amount of $10,000. The defendant appealed on the ground that the verdict was excessive and against the weight of the evidence. The plaintiff would not accept only $500, so the verdict was set aside. Issues Should the jury consider pain and suffering, as well as positive ill effects of the operation upon the

plaintiffs hand? Holding/Decision Any such ill effect of the operation would be included under the true rule of damages, but damages might properly be assessed for the defendants failure to improve the condition of the hand even if there were no evidence that its condition was made worse as a result of the operation. New Trial Reasoning The plaintiffs damage is the difference between the value to him of a perfect hand, such as the defendant promised, and the value of his hand in its present condition, including any incidental consequences fairly within the contemplation of the parties when they made their contract. Conclusion The purpose of the law is to put the plaintiff in as good a position as he would have been had the defendant kept his promise. Measurement is based on what the defendant should have given the plaintiff, minus what the plaintiff currently has. This does not take into account the pain that the plaintiff underwent to get where he is currently at. Concurrence The standard by which his conduct is to be judged is not internal, but external. Dissent

Dr. McGee claimed that no reasonable man would understand that they were used with the intention of entering into any contractual relation whatever, and that they could only be understood as his expression in strong language that he believed and expected that the plaintiff would receive a good hand out of the operation.