Doolittle v. Town of Walpole

Decision Date16 March 1894
Citation67 N.H. 554,38 A. 19
PartiesDOOLITTLE v. TOWN OF WALPOLE.
CourtNew Hampshire Supreme Court

Exceptions from Cheshire county.

Action on the case by Fred C. Doolittle against the town of Walpole. Demurrer was sustained to the declaration alleging that defendant erected and maintained in an unsuitable condition a lockup for keeping and detention of prisoners; that plaintiff was arrested, and for 24 hours confined therein, and by reason of its unsuitable condition was injured. Plaintiff excepts. Exceptions overruled.

D. H. Woodward, for plaintiff.

J. G. Bellows, for defendant.

BLODGETT, J. "In its own courts a state cannot be made an involuntary defendant it is not constitutionally bound to give to its school teachers, to those who support its panpers, lend it money, sell it real or personal property, or make and repair its roads and buildings, to travelers injured by defects in its highways, or to any class of contractors, creditors, or claimants, a right of action, civil or criminal, against itself." Wooster v. Plymouth, 62 N. H. 193, 205. Towns are "only political subdivisions of the state, made for the convenient administration of the government. * * * They are component parts of the state, and, aggregately taken, are the state." Id., 208. Constituting a portion of the sovereign power of the state, a municipal corporation is, therefore, not subject to a right of action against itself, unless the right is conferred by statute in the exercise of the entire control over municipalities with which the legislature is invested by the constitution (Id.); and, there being no express statute authorizing the plaintiff's action, nor any from which authority can be implied, the defendant town is, for the purpose of the present inquiry, no less a sovereign than the state. But, aside from this fatal objection, the plaintiff alleges no duty on the part of the defendants towards him which was unfulfilled. The injuries of which he complains arose from the misfeasance and neglect of duty of independent public officers in the performance of their statutory duty as selectmen to "provide a suitable lockup for the temporary detention of offenders" (Pub. St. c. 264, § 23); and the uniformly recognized doctrine is that the acts of such officers are their own official acts, and not the acts of the municipal corporation or its agents (Edgerly v. Concord, 62 N. H. 9, 12, 19, and authorities cited; Wakefield v. Newport, Id. 624, 625). And, even if the...

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11 cases
  • Hall v. City of Concord
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • 6 Mayo 1902
    ...284, 292, 72 Am. Dec. 302; Wooster v. Plymouth, 62 N. H. 193; Sargent v. Town of Gilford, 66 N. H. 543, 27 Atl. 306; Doolittle v. Town of Walpole, 67 N. H. 554, 38 Atl. 19; Gross v. City of Portsmouth, 68 N. H. 266, 33 Atl. 256, Am. St. Rep. 586; Rhobidas v. City of Concord, 70 N. H. 90, 11......
  • O'Brien v. Rockingham County
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • 6 Febrero 1923
    ...or claimants, a right of action, civil or criminal, against itself." Wooster v. Plymouth, 62 N. H. 193, 204, 205; Doolittle v. Walpole, 67 N. H. 554, 38 Atl. 19. If this were a suit against the state for injury through the warden's lack of care by a convict in the state prison or by one, no......
  • Gilman v. City of Concord
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • 7 Diciembre 1937
    ...is done by persons not under its control and direction. Edgerly v. Concord, 59 N.H. 78; Wakefield v. Newport, 62 N.H. 624; Doolittle v. Walpole, 67 N.H. 554, 38 A. 19; Wheeler v. Gilsum, 73 N.H. 429, 62 A. 597, 3 L.R.A.(N.S.) 135; Rhobidas v. Concord, supra, 70 N.H. 90, 109, 47 A. 82, 51 L.......
  • Rhobidas v. City of Concord
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • 16 Marzo 1900
    ...or to the public by force of a common-law obligation, but it is imposed upon them by statute." Id. Certain remarks in Doolittle v. Town of Walpole, 67 N. H. 554, 38 Atl. 19, seem to be broad enough to warrant the assumption that a town is not suable in any case where the right of action is ......
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