Lawson v. McLeod

Decision Date06 June 1956
Citation123 A.2d 199,152 Me. 67
PartiesChristine M. LAWSON v. Jeremiah M. McLEOD, Adm'r, William H. Dugan Estate.
CourtMaine Supreme Court

Myer Epstein, Harry Stern, Bangor, for plaintiff.

Cornelius J. O'Leary, Bangor, for defendant.

Before FELLOWS, C. J., WILLIAMSON, BELIVEAU, TAPLEY and WEBBER, JJ., and MURRAY, Acting Retired Justice.

WEBBER, Justice.

Plaintiff brings this action seeking to recover the fair value of services rendered by her to defendant's intestate during his lifetime. Verdict for defendant having been ordered at the close of plaintiff's case, we examine the evidence before us on exceptions in the light most favorable to plaintiff to discover if there be a jury question. A jury could find that there was no blood relationship between the plaintiff and the decedent; that on several occasions she left her occupation as a nurse and traveled from her home in Massachusetts to Bangor, there to remain for some time caring for the decedent and the home where he lived alone; that in 1953 the plaintiff and the decedent were visited by the plaintiff's sister and brother-in-law; that the decedent in general conversation spoke of sending for the plaintiff, and indicated that 'she came when he needed her', that 'she was a smart girl', that 'he did not know what he would have done without her', and that 'she would be well repaid.' Mr. Dugan also discussed his home and certain securities and their value and stated that he had told the plaintiff 'she should have them when he was through.' The same witnesses also observed the plaintiff doing housework. During the conversation the plaintiff neither denied nor remonstrated and a jury might find that she thereby gave tacit approval to these statements of the decedent bearing on their relationship.

The applicable rule was clearly enunciated in the very recent case of Colvin v. Barrett, 151 Me. 344, 118 A.2d 775. Where reliance is upon an implied contract, it must be shown expressly or by reasonable inferences from facts and circumstances that the one rendering services expected compensation and the one receiving services so understood or ought reasonably to have done so, and in some manner justified the expectation. No useful purpose will be served by again reviewing all the authorities collected in the Colvin case, supra. We note especially Bryant v. Fogg, 125 Me. 420, 134 A. 510, in which facts not unlike those before us were declared to present a jury question. Suffice it to say that we are unable to distinguish either the Colvin case or the Bryant case and are thereby compelled to find error in taking the case from the jury.

Counsel for defendant contends that there was no evidence from which the jury could assess damages. This would not justify a defendant's verdict if plaintiff otherwise satisfied her proof, as she would be entitled at least to nominal damages. Rollins v. Blackden, 112 Me. 459, 92 A. 521. But the value of services rendered under implied contract is a matter well suited to jury determination. 'Damages were not liquidated, nor were they capable of being reduced to...

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7 cases
  • Michaud v. Steckino
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • August 31, 1978
    ...not rest wholly on surmise and conjecture. Gottesman & Co. v. Portland Terminal Co., 139 Me. 90, 27 A.2d 394 (1942); Lawson v. McLeod, 152 Me. 67, 123 A.2d 199 (1956); Ginn v. Penobscot Company, Me., 334 A.2d 874, 887 (1975). See also State v. Mitchell, Me., 390 A.2d 495. A mere possibility......
  • Taliento v. Portland West Neighborhood Planning Council
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • August 29, 1997
    ...oral promises, the conduct of the parties, and other circumstances is a question of fact for a jury to decide. See Lawson v. McLeod, 152 Me. 67, 69, 123 A.2d 199, 200 (1956) (court erred in taking case from jury when facts and circumstances presented question whether there was an implied co......
  • Johnson v. Parsons
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • October 11, 1957
    ...our conclusion we have not overlooked the recent decisions of this Court in Colvin v. Barrett, 151 Me. 344, 118 A.2d 775; Lawson v. McLeod, 152 Me. 67, 123 A.2d 199; and Stinson v. Bridges, 152 Me. 306, 129 A.2d 203; which were all cases based on implied contracts and where recovery was sou......
  • Merrill Trust Co. v. State
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • July 21, 1980
    ...of damages may be determined to a probability. Hincks Coal Co. v. Milan and Toole, 135 Me. 203, 193 A. 243 (1937); Lawson v. McLeod, 152 Me. 67, 123 A.2d 199 (1956); Michaud v. Steckino, Me., 390 A.2d 524 (1978). The same rule applies in eminent domain Furthermore, the presiding Justice, as......
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