Cotnam v. Wisdom

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Cotnam v. Wisdom
Court Supreme Court of Arkansas
Citation 83 Ark. 601
104 S.W. 164 (1907)
Date decided 1907

Relevant Facts

The plaintiffs were doctors and the defendant was a man injured in an accident. He was thrown from a street car, and received serious injuries. Some spectator notified the doctors of the injury, and they performed a difficult operation in an effort to save his life. They wanted to charge his estate for the surgery.

Procedural History

Judgment for the plaintiffs, to which the defendant appealed.


  1. Whether one can recover from a contract which is implied but never expressly agreed to.
  2. Whether the estate and financial situation of one entering a quasi contract can be considered in determining the cost of services rendered.


Judgment reversed and the case remanded.


A constructive contract is a legal fiction because there was no promise and agreement, but is necessary for the sake of remedy.

The financial condition of a patient cannot be considered when there is no contract and recover is sustained on a legal fiction which raises a contract in order to afford a remedy which the justice of the case requires.