For Law Students

Join Now

The Hairy Hand Case takes place in Hawkins v. McGee

Hawkins v. McGee

This is the latest in a series of case brief videos. Have you signed up for your Quimbee membership? The American Bar Association offers three months of online Quimbee study aids for law student members. And if you go Premium, you’ll receive Quimbee’s Outline on Legal Ethics as part of our Premium Legal Ethics Bundle – a $29 value.

Contracts students and fans of The Paper Chase will no doubt be familiar with (and perhaps have nightmares about) the famous case of Hawkins v. McGee, 146 A. 641 (1929), better known as The Hairy Hand Case.

The case involved a young boy named George Hawkins whose hand was badly scarred. A surgeon named Edward R. B. McGee promised that an operation, which entailed the grafting of skin from Hawkins’s chest onto his hand, would leave Hawkins with a 100% good hand. Instead, the operation left Hawkins with, well . . . a hairy hand.

Hawkins sued McGee. In resolving the matter, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire declared that the proper measure of damages for breach of contract in cases like this was the difference between the value of the contract as fully performed and the actual value of what the non-breaching party got, plus any reasonably foreseeable incidental damages.

In other words, Hawkins was entitled to the difference in value between a 100% good hand and a hairy hand.

This case became one of the most widely studied cases on the law of damages for its explanation of the proper calculation of expectation damages.


Quimbee Quimbee is one of the most widely used and respected study aids for law students. With a massive and growing library of case briefs, video lessons, practice exams, and multiple-choice questions, Quimbee helps its members achieve academic success in law school.