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Mills v. Wyman - enforceable because the debt is a...

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Contracts 10/15 Promissory Restitution Mills v. Wyman, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 1825 Facts : Wyman was on a return from a voyage at sea. He got sick and the plaintiff treated him. After all expenses had been incurred for his treatment, Wyman’s father wrote a letter to Mills promising to pay him back. There was no consideration for the promise. Wyman later died and Mills now sues his father who no longer cared for his 25 year old son. Procedure : trial court directed a non-suit. Issue : Holding : judgment affirmed. Rule : Class Notes : The court declares that a moral obligation can give rise to a legal obligation in certain specific situations: if a person was subject to a legal obligation that has become unenforceable (either because of passage of time, such as the statute of limitations, or for some other reason), a subsequent promise to honor or revive the legal obligation will be enforceable at law. The court states that promises to pay debts barred by the statute of limitations are
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Unformatted text preview: enforceable because the debt is a preexisting legal obligation. Restatement § 82 – a promise to pay a debt barred by the statute of limitations can be express or it may be implied from the conduct of the obligor. Implied = partial payment, acknowledgment of the debt, etc… Promises to pay debts previously discharged in bankruptcy are also legally enforceable. Unlike promises to pay debts barred by the statute of limitations, promises to pay debts discharged in bankruptcy will not be judicially implied. Restatement § 83 provides that the promise must be express. The court in Mills also refers to “debts incurred by infants” as a situation in which the law will enforce a promise for benefits previously received. Restatement § 85 – reflects the rule that a minor’s promise when he reaches the age of majority to perform a contract made during minority is legally binding....
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