Hawksaw v. Rawlings, 1 Strange 24, decided in about 1717, answers the question of whether a creditor, when paid by a stranger, can still maintain an action against his original debtor.
An early case, Grymes v. Blofield (1598) holds that the creditor may repudiate this payment by a stranger, and still enforce the claim against the debtor as unpaid. Even though this rule seems somewhat inequitable, early American cases seem to follow the rule of Grymes. See, for example, the New York cases of Clow v. Borst, 6 Johns. 37, and Bleakley v. White, 4 Paige 654.
But this rule was repudiated in Hawksaw v. Rawlings, 1 Strange 24 (1717). And on this side of the Atlantic, it was repudiated in Wellington v. Kelly, 84 N.Y. 543 (1881). In more modern times, Hawkshaw was cited with apparent approval in Surber v. Woodruff, 10 Ohio Misc. 2d 1 (1983). See also the discussion in North-West Insurance Co. v. Western Pacific Insurance Co., 439 P.2d 1006 (1968).
Full text of Hawksaw v. Rawlings
Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).
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