First Nat. Bank of Kansas City v. Danforth, No. 58488

CourtMissouri Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation523 S.W.2d 808
PartiesThe FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF KANSAS CITY, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. John C. DANFORTH, Attorney General of Missouri, Defendant-Appellant, and Lakeside Hospital Association et al., Defendants-Appellants, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Hospital, Appellant, and Mary Elizabeth Blethroade Sutt et al., Defendants-Appellants, and ST. Luke's Hospital of Kansas City, Missouri, et al., Defendants-Respondents
Decision Date13 January 1975
Docket NumberNo. 1,No. 58488

Page 808

523 S.W.2d 808
The FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF KANSAS CITY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
John C. DANFORTH, Attorney General of Missouri, Defendant-Appellant,
and
Lakeside Hospital Association et al., Defendants-Appellants,
and
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Hospital, Appellant,
and
Mary Elizabeth Blethroade Sutt et al., Defendants-Appellants,
and
ST. Luke's Hospital of Kansas City, Missouri, et al.,
Defendants-Respondents.
No. 58488.
Supreme Court of Missouri, Division No. 1.
Jan. 13, 1975.
Motion for Rehearing or to Transfer to Court En Banc Denied
Feb. 10, 1975.
Certiorari Denied May 27, 1975, June 9, 1975.
See 95 S.Ct. 1999, 2424.

Page 811

Hilary A. Bush, Kent Snapp, James L. Burgess, James M. Beck, Johnson, Lucas, Bush & Snapp, Kansas City, for plaintiff-respondent.

John C. Danforth, Atty. Gen., B. J. Jones, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for appellant, John C. Danforth.

Charles C. Shafer, Jr. and Howard Chamberlin of Shafer & Chamberlin, A Professional Corp., Kansas City, for Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Hospital.

Lane D. Bauer, Kansas City, David M. Roberts, Tacoma, Wash., and Harvey L. Kaplan, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Kansas City, for defendant-appellant Lakeside Hospital Assn.

Lem T. Jones, Jr. and Russell Stover Jones, Kansas City, for defendant-appellant Research Hospital and Medical Center.

Darrell L. Havener, Watson, Ess, Marshall & Enggas, Kansas City, for defendant-appellant Northeast Osteopathic Hospital.

Daniel M. Dibble and Maurice J. O'Sullivan, Jr., Lathrop, Koontz, Righter, Clagett, Parker & Norquist, Kansas City, for defendants-appellants Kansas City General Hospital and Medical Center and Children's Mercy Hospital.

Robert A. Babcock, Margolin & Kirwan, Kansas City, for defendant-appellant Jewish Memorial Hospital Assn.

Keith Wilson, Jr., Independence, for defendant-appellant Kansas City College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Paul Scott Kelly, Jr., and Terry J. Brady, Gage, Tucker, Hodges, Kreamer, Kelly & Varner, Kansas City, for defendant-appellant Sisters of Saint Mary (Owning and Operating St. Mary's Hospital).

Richard E. Duggan, C. Harold Mann, Kansas City, for Baptist Memorial Hospital.

Thomas J. Leittem, William B. Prugh, Shughart, Thomson & Kilroy, Kansas City, and Thomas H. Bennett, Independence, for Independence Sanitarium and Hospital.

Lawrence R. Brown, Lawrence M. Berkowitz, Stinson, Mag, Thomson, McEvers & Fizzell, Kansas City, for Kansas City Lutheran Home and Hospital.

Edward T. Matheny, Jr., Larry L. McMullen, Thomas W. Wagstaff, Blackwell, Sanders, Matheny, Weary & Lombardi, Kansas City, for St. Luke's Hospital.

Walter A. Raymond, Kenneth C. West, Paul R. Shy, Raymond, West & Shy, and Charles E. Thomson, Kansas City, for Known Heirs.

Jesse L. Childers, Kansas City, for Unknown Heirs.

HIGGINS, Commissioner.

Appeal from declaratory judgment in construction of and upholding a public charitable trust which purports to discriminate among its beneficiaries by race, religion, and national origin. Among the questions is whether the construction involves the State of Missouri and requires the exercise of its powers as to subject the trust to requirements of the United States Constitution, Amendments I and XIV, and Missouri Constitution, Article 1, Sections 2, 5, 7, and 10, V.A.M.S.

Also involved is an appeal by the Attorney General from a judgment awarding attorneys' fees, said judgment being designated as a separate final judgment for purposes of appeal. Rule 81.06, V.A.M.R.

Homer McWilliams, a bachelor, died testate December 21, 1965, aged 98 years. He was hospitalized in Trinity Lutheran Hospital continuously for the last 18 years of his life. Excluding several irrelevant minor bequests to cousins and friends, his Last Will and Testament, executed November 16, 1934, as modified by its First Codicil, executed March 20, 1946, provided that

Page 812

the bulk of his estate was to be held in trust for certain charitable purposes. The net value of the trust as of December 21, 1965, was $8,485,891.22. 1

Article XV of the will and codicil devised the remainder of testator's property to his trustees; established the 'McWilliams Memorial Hospital Trust'; and directed 'that the net income from the Trust Estate * * * be used annually by the Trustees * * * in contributing to the maintenance and support of Protestant Christian Hospitals operated and maintained upon a non-profit basis in * * * Jackson County, Missouri, * * * and/or contributing to the maintenance, support and care of sick and infirm patients in said Hospitals, born of white parents in the United States of America. * * * And I give my said Trustees * * * full power and authority to select, and to give these benefits of this Trust, and to make such distributions to, said Hospital and Hospitals of the kind and character aforesaid as in the judgment and discretion of the Trustees, * * * as they * * * shall determine to be giving and will continue to give the greatest measure of hospital service and care to deserving poor and unfortunate people of the class aforesaid.'

On May 21, 1969, the First National Bank of Kansas City, as sole surviving trustee, filed a petition which it amended June 18, 1970, 'to construe a private and a public charitable trust.' The amended petition was in six counts, and named as defendants the Attorney General of Missouri, all twenty-three licensed hospitals believed by plaintiff to be located in Jackson County, and the known and unknown heirs of Homer McWilliams.

In Count V of the petition, the only count relevant to this appeal, plaintiff alleges that it 'is unable to ascertain with certainty the meaning of said words (Article XV of the Will) and cannot determine with certainty which hospitals in Jackson County, Missouri, and which patients therein, qualify as possible beneficiaries of the trust.'

The petition was separately answered by Mary Elizabeth Blethroade Sutt, Elizabeth May Jackson, Carly McWilliams, and Casley McWilliams, each claiming to be collateral heirs of Homer McWilliams; asserting illegality of the trust provisions and that Mr. McWilliams had no general charitable intent; that therefore the trust failed and they were entitled to the res as lawful heirs of the testator. The unknown heirs through their appointed attorney took a similar position.

The defendant hospitals who are now appellants (Lakeside Group) separately answered, each asserting that it qualified as a beneficiary of the trust; that compliance with the trust provisions would be discriminatory, illegal, and impossible; and that since testator expressed a general charitable intent, the cy pres doctrine should be applied to qualify all nonprofit nongovernmental hospitals in Jackson County and all indigent patients therein as beneficiaries.

The defendant hospitals who are now respondents (St. Luke's Group) separately answered, each alleging that it was a Protestant Christian hospital, operated on a nonprofit basis in Jackson County, caring for sick and infirm patients of all races, colors, creeds, and nationalities, and providing hospital service to deserving poor and unfortunate people; that therefore it qualified as a beneficiary and that the class of patients for which hospital care and services are provided by it, qualifies as a beneficiary under the Trust.

Each of the eight hospitals in the Lakeside Group are tax exempt, nonprofit corporations in Jackson County, Missouri, and licensed under the Missouri Hospital Licensing Law. All have been incorporated by pro forma decree or under the Missouri Not-For-Profit Act. None has any affiliation

Page 813

or connection with any organized church except St. Mary's Hospital which is operated by the Sisters of St. Mary, a Roman Catholic Order. All admit substantial numbers of charity patients, and none discriminates among its patients, employees, or medical or administrative staff on the basis of race or religion. All are qualified to and do receive governmental Medicare and Medicaid payments, as well as federal funds under Hill-Burton, Federal Manpower, or other Acts.

Each of the four hospitals in St. Luke's Group is also located in Jackson County and is organized and operated in the same manner as the hospitals in the Lakeside Group, except that federal funds received by Baptist Memorial Hospital have been limited to Medicare and Medicaid, and except that each has a special relationship with and is controlled in part by a Protestant Christian Church.

Dr. Robert K. Ordway, President and Dean of the Missouri School of Religion in Columbia, Missouri, expressed opinions in definition of 'Protestant' and 'Christian.' "Christian' is a term which applies to a body of religious belief and thought and doctrine in which the person, the ministry of Jesus Christ is of paramount importance.' Dr. Ordway ascribed two meanings to 'Protestant.' 'The generally accepted understanding of the term 'Protestant" meant 'any Christian religious group which is not either Roman Catholic or Orthodox.' In his second and more technical definition, '* * * a 'Protestant,' to speak of a person, is a person who is a member of one of the religious bodies which is able to trace its historical heritage in general to the time of the Reformation, the 15th, 16th (and 17th) centuries, and including specifically the historical perspective that this group originated in some form of protest or an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church at that time.'

Pursuant to these definitions, Dr. Ordway stated that there were various organizations in Missouri and in the United States which are generally known as Protestant Christian bodies, but which are not organized churches in themselves. Such bodies offer a wide range of social services including homes for children and aged, and schools and hospitals. In order to define such a nonchurch Protestant Christian institution, Dr. Ordway stated, '(t)the basic criteria would be that there is some definable formally accepted relationship...

To continue reading

Request your trial
22 practice notes
  • Shapiro v. Columbia Union Nat. Bank and Trust Co., No. 60561
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 18, 1978
    ...Trust, 59 Iowa L.Rev. 1000, 1002-1005 (1976). See also discussion by Higgins, C., in First National Bank of Kansas City v. Danforth, 523 S.W.2d 808, 819 (Mo.1975), Cert. den. sub nom. Sutt v. First National Bank of Kansas City, 421 U.S. 992, 95 S.Ct. 1999, 44 L.Ed.2d 483 (1975) and Lakeside......
  • Foster v. Foster, No. 1374
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 21, 1976
    ...482, 484 (D.C.Mun.App.1953); Tyler v. Dixson, 57 A.2d 648, 649-50, (D.C.Mun.App.1948); First National Bank of Kansas City v. Danforth, 523 S.W.2d 808, 825 (Mo.1975); Robichaux v. Robichaux, 289 So.2d 837, 838 (La.App.1974); Sebree v. Rosen, 393 S.W.2d 590, 599 (Mo.1965); Jordan v. Freeman, ......
  • State v. Vogenthaler, No. 2258
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • March 9, 1976
    ...of testator intent in creating a trust benefitting Protestant Christian Hospitals, First National Bank of Kansas City v. Danforth, 523 S.W.2d 808 (Mo.1975), cert. denied, 421 U.S. 992, 95 S.Ct. 1999, 44 L.Ed.2d 483, 421 U.S. 1016, 95 S.Ct. 2424, 44 L.Ed.2d 685 (1975); statute prohibiting so......
  • Helmer v. Voss, No. 64454
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • February 23, 1983
    ...have no authority to find otherwise, provided the intent is not contrary to the law. First National Bank of Kansas City v. Danforth, 523 S.W.2d 808, 816-17 (Mo.), cert. denied, 421 U.S. 992, 95 S.Ct. 1999, 44 L.Ed.2d 483 (1975); First National Bank of Kansas City v. Waldron, 406 S.W.2d 56, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • Shapiro v. Columbia Union Nat. Bank and Trust Co., No. 60561
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 18, 1978
    ...Trust, 59 Iowa L.Rev. 1000, 1002-1005 (1976). See also discussion by Higgins, C., in First National Bank of Kansas City v. Danforth, 523 S.W.2d 808, 819 (Mo.1975), Cert. den. sub nom. Sutt v. First National Bank of Kansas City, 421 U.S. 992, 95 S.Ct. 1999, 44 L.Ed.2d 483 (1975) and Lakeside......
  • Foster v. Foster, No. 1374
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 21, 1976
    ...482, 484 (D.C.Mun.App.1953); Tyler v. Dixson, 57 A.2d 648, 649-50, (D.C.Mun.App.1948); First National Bank of Kansas City v. Danforth, 523 S.W.2d 808, 825 (Mo.1975); Robichaux v. Robichaux, 289 So.2d 837, 838 (La.App.1974); Sebree v. Rosen, 393 S.W.2d 590, 599 (Mo.1965); Jordan v. Freeman, ......
  • State v. Vogenthaler, No. 2258
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • March 9, 1976
    ...of testator intent in creating a trust benefitting Protestant Christian Hospitals, First National Bank of Kansas City v. Danforth, 523 S.W.2d 808 (Mo.1975), cert. denied, 421 U.S. 992, 95 S.Ct. 1999, 44 L.Ed.2d 483, 421 U.S. 1016, 95 S.Ct. 2424, 44 L.Ed.2d 685 (1975); statute prohibiting so......
  • Helmer v. Voss, No. 64454
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • February 23, 1983
    ...have no authority to find otherwise, provided the intent is not contrary to the law. First National Bank of Kansas City v. Danforth, 523 S.W.2d 808, 816-17 (Mo.), cert. denied, 421 U.S. 992, 95 S.Ct. 1999, 44 L.Ed.2d 483 (1975); First National Bank of Kansas City v. Waldron, 406 S.W.2d 56, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT