Although the burden of proving reliance upon a supposed contract rests on the plaintiff, evidence that a substantial benefit has, with the defendant's acquiescence, been conferred upon him, will in most cases fairly lead to the inference that the plaintiff expected payment, and believed that the defendant was aware of such expectation, and will therefore establish a prima facie case of reliance.3 This prima facie case will not be overcome by evidence that the plaintiff was aware of the defendant's poverty.4 It may be overcome, however, by evidence that the benefit was conferred in an emergency - as in the saving of the defendant's property from fire or flood;5 that similar benefits had previously been conferred by the plaintiff upon the defendant without request for payment;1 or that the benefit was of a kind usually conferred without the expectation of pecuniary reward.2
1 Ulmer v. Farnsworth, 1888, 80 Me. 500; 15 Atl. 65.
2 Davidson v. Westchester Gas Light Co., 1885, 99 N. Y. 558; 2 N. E. 892. See also Peters v. Gallagher, 1877, 37 Mich. 407, (floating another's logs in order to free his own).
In Griffin v. Sansom, 1903, 31 Tex. Civ. App. 560; 72 S. W. 864, the plaintiff was not allowed to recover one half of the cost of a party wall erected in the belief that defendant would be liable, and actually used by the defendant, but under circumstances not resulting in a contractual obligation. See also Sherred v. Cisco, 1851, 4 Sandf. (N. Y. Superior Ct.) 480; List v. Hornbrook, 1867, 2 W. Va. 340. On the obligation to contribute to cost of party walls generally, see note in 66 L. R. A. 673.
3 See Hughes v. Dundee Mortgage, etc., Co., 1884, 21 Fed. 169 ; Hood v. League, 1894, 102 Ala. 228; 14 So. 572, (housekeeping for a paralytic); Hunt v. Osborn, 1907, 40 Ind. App. 646; 82 N. E. 933; Weston v. Davis, 1844, 24 Me. (11 Shep.) 374; Kiser v. Holladay, 1896, 29 Or. 338; 45 Pac. 759, (services of aged man on farm); Moyer's Appeal, 1886, 112 Pa. St. 290; 3 Atl. 811, (services of grandson); Wojahn v. Nat. Union Bank, 1911, 144 Wis. 646; 129 N. W. 1068.
4 Worthington v. Plymouth, etc., R. Co., 1897, 168 Mass. 474; 47 N. E. 403, (corporation without funds).
5 See Bartholomew v. Jackson, 1822, 20 Johns. (N. Y.) 28; 11 Am. Dec. 237: "If a man humanely bestows his labor, and even risks his life, in voluntarily aiding to preserve his neighbor's house from destruction by fire, the law considers the service rendered as gratuitous, and it, therefore, forms no ground of action.'! See also Hertzog v. Hertzog, 1857, 29 Pa. St. 465, 468.