Hawkins v. McGee Case Brief or “The Hairy Hand Case” 146 A. 641, 84 N.H. 114 (N.H. 1929)
Hawkins v. McGee is the leading example of damages in contracts that are issued by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire. This case was known as a “hairy hand case” because of the circumstances of the case.
This Hawkins vs McGee case is examined and studied by students to this day. This is also the case in the novel by John J. Osborne Junior “The Paper Chase” and also in the film adaptation of this novel.
Hawkins v McGee brief: In this case, the defendant is the surgeon McGee. The plaintiff is his patient Hawkins. The hand of George A. Hawkins was traumatized when he was 11 years old (1922) after contact with the electric wire after he turned on the light in the kitchen of his family home. His father Charles contacted a local doctor in Berlin, New Hampshire, to remove the scar on the palm of his son. Surgeon McGee assured that he could manage to operate the injured hand by one hundred percent level. The surgeon transported the skin from the chest of the boy to the palm, although, in fact he told George's mother that the graft would come from the hip.
As a result, the boy received an irreversible side effect from the operation. Dense hair began to grow on his palm. Considered that the surgeon McGee could not properly remove the scar tissue on his arm, which caused many complications after the operation, George suffered from the consequences of this operation until the end of his life. Also, the skin on the chest of the boy was injured and became very thin. Hawkins sued on the theory of breach of contract in 1926 and was paid for losses from pain from surgery and the side effect that the operation inflicted on his arm. In common, the court faced a problem in how the damages should be awarded in this case.
Hawkins v McGee Case Brief Facts
McGee carried out the procedure for removing scar tissue from the hands of Hawkins and replaced it with a skin transplant from Hawkins' breast. The surgeon guaranteed to Hawkins and his father that he would perform the operation for one hundred percent. Based on the warranties of the surgeon, Hawkins, and his father agreed to the operation. Unfortunately, the operation was unsuccessfully performed. Due to the fact that the surgeon was transporting the skin from the patient's chest, thick hair began to grow on Hawkins's palms. Hawkins sued the surgeon McGee based on the fact that McGee violated the alleged guarantee of the success of the operation.
At the Court of the First Instance for the Hawkins v. McGee case, an order was given to the jury. They needed that if Hawkins had the right to receive assistance, the defendant must pay him damages that were based on his pain and suffering from the operation and also on the side effects that were obtained in the course of the operation and exceeded his existing injury. So, the jury awarded damage to Hawkins. However, surgeon McGee refused to vindicate the verdict, since he believed that he was excessive. In consequence, the court of the first instance agreed with McGee and said that if Hawkins did not return the damages awarded above $ 500, the verdict would be canceled. Hawkins refused, and the court of the first instance overturned the verdict.
Eventually, the court decided that the injured Hawkins was entitled to the expected side effect of the operation – in order to equal the difference in value between the result of the operation that was promised and the actual result.
However, the court dismissed Hawkins' claim for damages for pain and suffering based on the fact that Hawkins would have experienced pain and suffering, even if the operation was successful. So, the decision was canceled, and the damage was awarded to the plaintiff.
In 1931, Edward McGee filed a lawsuit against the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co in the first district court of appeal. McGee wanted them to cover absolutely all the expenses that he had to pay Hawkins. The company refused, and the court ruled on their side.