Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cotnam v. Wisdom case brief

Cotnam v. Wisdom case brief summary
83 Ark. 601

SYNOPSIS: Appellant estate of decedent sought review of the judgment from the Pulaski Circuit Court (Arkansas), which rendered judgment in favor of appellee doctors for medical services they rendered to decedent after he was hit by a street car. The doctors had previously presented this claim to the probate court, and appealed that decision to the circuit court.

FACTS:
-Two doctors were summoned to render aid to decedent, who had been thrown from a street car.
-The doctors submitted their claim to the probate court, which allowed a $ 400 claim.
-They appealed to the circuit court, where the jury awarded $ 650 after the doctors argued to the jury that their $ 2,000 claim was based on the decedent's net worth and the fact that he had died leaving only collateral heirs.
 -The court reversed the circuit court's judgment and remanded the case.

HOLDING:
The court held that the doctors could recover under an implied contract.

ANALYSIS:
-Therefore, the jury instruction that the doctors were entitled to compensation based on their rendering professional services to decedent was proper.
-Neither did the circuit court have to compel the doctors to show the value of their services to the decedent.
-But the circuit court erred in allowing evidence of the decedent's financial condition, his marital status, or the identity of his heirs.
-Such evidence was irrelevant and may have been prejudicial.

RULES:
-In its practical application, an implied contract sustains recovery for physicians and nurses who render services for infants, insane persons and drunkards.
-And services rendered by physicians to persons unconscious or helpless by reason of injury or sickness are in the same situation as those rendered to persons incapable of contracting, such as the classes above described.

OUTCOME: The court reversed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of the doctors and remanded the case.

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