273. Under certain circumstances, where one person has conferred upon another benefits in the way of property, services, etc., and cannot show a promise in fact by the latter to pay for them, the law will create an obligation, because of the receipt of the benefits, to pay what they are reasonably worth.
As we have seen, if a man delivers goods to another, or performs services for him, not under such circumstances as to lead the latter to believe them a gift, and the latter accepts them or acquiesces, a promise to pay for them will be implied as a fact. Here there is a true contract shown by the conduct of the parties. Goods may be delivered, however, or services rendered, under circumstances showing that there is no agreement in fact, or that, though there was an agreement, a condition has not been performed by one of the parties so as to entitle him to sue the other on it, or for some reason it is unenforceable, or is illegal. Under these circumstances the law will sometimes create an obligation to pay for the goods delivered or services rendered.12 There has, in these cases, been an agreement in fact, which for some reason will not support an action, and the goods have been delivered, or the services rendered, under this agreement. It needs no argument to show that you cannot imply as a fact any other promise to pay than the unenforceable promise proved to have been made. The question is one of evidence, and the promise shown to have been made in fact prevents the implication of any other promise in fact. Any implied promise to pay must be implied as a matter of law, or created by the law, and must therefore be quasi contractual, and not contractual. We cannot go at much length into the various circumstances under which such a promise will be created, but will mention some of the most important.
We have seen that, though an infant or an insane or drunken person is ordinarily incapable of making a contract which will bind him, he is liable for necessaries furnished him. He is not liable for what he tion ultra vires may not be recovered, if such recovery would increase the burden of taxation. Id. 258.
12 Van Deusen v. Blum, 18 Pick. (Mass.) 229, 29 Am. Dec, 582; Turner v. Webster, 24 Kan. 38, 36 Am. Rep. 251. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) $ 27; Cent. Dig. § 122; "Sales," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 360; Cent. Dig. §§ 1060-1062.
may have agreed to pay for them, but only for what they are worth. It would seem from this that the promise is one created by law, and therefore quasi contractual.18 To so regard it would make the law more consistent. It does not seem consistent to say that because of the immature judgment of an infant, or because of the diseased mind of a lunatic, he cannot consent, and therefore cannot enter into a binding agreement, and to say in the next breath that he may bind himself for necessaries. It is better to say that the law makes him liable for necessaries. As we have seen, however, many of the courts regard the liability as based upon the express promise. They allow an action, for instance, on a note, or other express promise, given for necessaries, provided it is such that the consideration may be inquired into, so that the recovery may be limited to what the necessaries are reasonably worth.14
We have also seen that, where a husband leaves his wife without means of support, the law gives her authority to pledge his credit to obtain necessaries. Not only is this true, but the law will hold a husband liable in assumpsit for necessaries furnished his abandoned wife while she is unconscious, and will hold an insane or infant husband liable for necessaries furnished his wife. The liability thus imposed upon the husband is imposed by law without his consent, and is clearly quasi contractual.18 Under like circumstances a man may be liable for necessaries furnished his children.16