Webb v. McGowin

Procedural History

  • Court of appeals, Alabama, 1935
  • Judgment of non-suit, plaintiff appealed this action


  • Webb sustained serious injuries while working which disabled from performing physical or mental labor.
  • Pretty much saved McGowin’s life by not throwing cinderblock over the edge. Instead, he went over and was severely injured…
  • In consideration of the preventative effort, McGowan agreed, for the remainder of the appellant’s life would pay $15 every other week.
  • McGowin died, and Webb sought payments for breach of contract.
  • Defendant argued no consideration, just moral obligation.


  • Was this an enforceable contract?


  • Yes, it was.


  • Appellant saved Mr. McGowan from injuries or death, and McGowin subsequently agreed to pay him for the service rendered, it became valid and enforceable…Person who benefited from the promise made the moral obligation…
  • There was mutuality. There were benefits accrued. If they both accept it after the fact, it is an agreement with consideration and benefits.
  • It wasn’t just “moral obligation”. McGowan received a benefit (lack of death or bodily harm) and McGowan agreed to pay for the services rendered, it became valid and enforceable.


Reversed and remanded.


Where the promise cares for, improves, and preserves the property of the promisor, though done without request, it is sufficient consideration for the promisor’s subsequent agreement to pay for the service, because of the material benefit received…

  • McGowan did not have to pay appellant anything, but did out of his good intention…It is considered a contract because McGowan, although before the contract took place, received a material benefit from Webb’s actions…there was consideration and benefit received from both side.  It is not just a promise, but a contract enforceable by law.

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