33 F.Supp. 867 (D.D.C. 1940), 88895, Hughes v. President and Directors of Georgetown College

Docket Nº:88895.
Citation:33 F.Supp. 867
Party Name:HUGHES v. PRESIDENT AND DIRECTORS OF GEORGETOWN COLLEGE.
Case Date:June 04, 1940
Court:United States District Courts, District of Columbia
 
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Page 867

33 F.Supp. 867 (D.D.C. 1940)

HUGHES

v.

PRESIDENT AND DIRECTORS OF GEORGETOWN COLLEGE.

No. 88895.

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

June 4, 1940

Page 868

Emmett L. Sheehan and Maurice H. Lanman, Jr., both of Washington, D.C., for plaintiff.

Henry I. Quinn, of Washington, D.C., for defendant.

PROCTOR, Justice.

The plaintiff, Susan M. Hughes, was seriously and permanently injured in Georgetown University Hospital while about her duties as a nurse specially employed by a paying patient. A jury by special verdict found the injury to have resulted from negligence of a student nurse in the regular employ of the hospital. The defendant corporation is an eleemosynary institution. The hospital is one of the charitable activities conducted by it. An insurance policy protects defendant from any loss legally imposed in a tort action to the extent of $25,000, besides the costs of defense.

Several defenses are urged against a judgment upon the verdict. The basic contention is made that defendant as a charitable institution is altogether immune from liability for torts of its employees in the course of their work, and alternatively that the plaintiff was a beneficiary of the charity and as such excluded from recovery against the institution.

The argument for total immunity hinges upon the early English rule, based upon the so-called 'trust fund theory' that recognition of liability would operate to wrongfully divert trust funds donated for charity. Duncan v. Findlater, 6 C.& F. 894, Feoffees of Heriot's Hospital v. Ross, 12 C.& F. 507, Holliday v. Vestry of St. Leonard, 11 C.B.,N.S., 192. The doctrine found some support in this country led by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in McDonald v. Massachusetts General Hospital, 120 Mass. 432, 21 Am.Rep. 529. It has met with favor by this court. Mattson v. Columbia Hospital, Law 65825, Bauer v. Childrens' Hospital, Law 73184, Sundheimer v. Georgetown College, Law 83333. However, there is no controlling decision in this jurisdiction. The theory upon which the rule is grounded requires its universal application. It admits of no exception. Recipients of the charity and strangers thereto must be treated alike. All are barred. Hamburger v. Cornell University, 240 N.Y. 328, 338, 148 N.E. 539, 42 A.L.R. 955; Andrews v. Y.M.C.A., Iowa, 284 N.W. 186, 189. The doctrine met with opposition in England and was finally...

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