463 U.S. 239 (1983), 82-63, City of Revere v. Massachusetts General Hosp.

Docket Nº:No. 82-63.
Citation:463 U.S. 239, 103 S.Ct. 2979, 77 L.Ed.2d 605
Case Date:June 27, 1983
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 239

463 U.S. 239 (1983)

103 S.Ct. 2979, 77 L.Ed.2d 605

CITY OF REVERE, Petitioner



No. 82-63.

United States Supreme Court.

June 27, 1983

Argued Feb. 28, 1983.

Hospital brought action against city for cost of medical services rendered to person shot by police officer. Dismissal of the complaint by the Superior Court, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, was affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, 385 Mass. 772, 434 N.E.2d 185. On grant of certiorari, the Supreme Court, Justice Blackmun, held that: (1) where there had been no formal adjudication of guilt against person shot by police officer, at the time that such person required medical care for which hospital sought recovery from city, Eighth Amendment had no application as basis for such recovery, and (2) city fulfilled its constitutional due process obligation by seeing that person injured by police was taken promptly to hospital providing treatment necessary for his injury, and as long as governmental entity ensures that medical care needed is in fact provided, Constitution does not dictate how cost of that care should be allocated as between the entity and provider of the care, but, rather, same is matter of state law.

Judgment of the Supreme Judicial Court reversed.

Justice Rehnquist, with whom Justice White joined, filed opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.

Justice Stevens, filed opinion concurring in the judgment.

[103 S.Ct. 2980] Syllabus[*]


A police officer of petitioner city wounded a suspect who was attempting to flee from the scene of a breaking and entering. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that petitioner is liable for the medical services rendered by respondent hospital to the wounded person.


1. This Court does not lack jurisdiction to review the Massachusetts court's opinion on the asserted ground that the decision rested on an adequate and independent state ground. The Massachusetts court's opinion premised petitioner's liability squarely on the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments. Pp. 2981-2982.

2. Respondent has standing in the Art. III sense to raise its constitutional claim in this Court. Moreover, invoking prudential limitations on respondent's assertion of the rights of a third party (the wounded person) would serve no functional purpose. Cf. Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 97 S.Ct. 451, 50 L.Ed.2d 397. Pp. 2982-2983.

3. The relevant constitutional provision is not the Eighth Amendment but is, instead, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although the Eighth Amendment's proscription of cruel and unusual punishments is violated by [103 S.Ct. 2981] deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners, Eighth Amendment scrutiny is appropriate only after the State has secured a formal adjudication of guilt. Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 97 S.Ct. 1401, 51 L.Ed.2d 711. Here, there had been no formal adjudication of guilt against the wounded person at the time he required medical care. P. 2983.

4. The Due Process Clause requires the responsible governmental entity to provide medical care to persons who have been injured while being apprehended by the police. However, as long as the governmental entity ensures that the medical care needed is in fact provided, the Constitution does not dictate how the cost of that care should be allocated as between the entity and the provider of the care. That is a matter of state law. Here, petitioner fulfilled its constitutional obligation by seeing that the wounded person received the needed medical treatment; how petitioner obtained such treatment is not a federal constitutional question. Pp. 2983-2984.

385 Mass. 772, 434 N.E.2d 185 (1982), reversed.


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Ira H. Zaleznik argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs was Valerie L. Pawson.

Michael Broad argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief wasErnest M. Haddad.*

* Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed by Paul R. Devin for the City of Fitchburg et al.; and by Daniel J. Popeo, Paul D. Kamenar, andNicholas E. Calio for the Washington Legal Foundation.

William T. McGrail filed a brief for the Massachusetts Hospital Association, Inc., as amicus curiae urging affirmance.

Charles S. Sims, Burt Neuborne, and John Reinstein filed a brief for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. as amici curiae.

Ira H. Zaleznik, Boston, Mass., for petitioner.

Michael Broad, Boston, Mass., for respondent.


Justice BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.

The issue in this case is whether a municipality's constitutional duty to obtain necessary medical care for a person injured by the municipality's police in the performance of their duties includes a corresponding duty to compensate the provider of that medical care.


On September 20, 1978, members of the police force of petitioner city of Revere, Mass., responded to a report of a breaking and entering in progress. At the scene they sought to detain a man named Patrick M. Kivlin, who attempted to flee. When repeated commands to stop and a warning shot failed to halt Kivlin's flight, an officer fired at Kivlin and wounded him. The officers summoned a private ambulance. It took Kivlin, accompanied by one officer, to the emergency room of respondent Massachusetts General

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Hospital (MGH) in Boston. 1 Kivlin was hospitalized at MGH from September 20 until September 29. Upon his release, Revere police served him with an arrest warrant that had been issued on September 26. Kivlin was arraigned and released on his...

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