Harris v. Grizzle, No. 5080

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtBefore RAPER, C. J., and McCLINTOCK, THOMAS, and ROSE, JJ., and GUTHRIE; RAPER
Citation599 P.2d 580
PartiesAndrew Lawrence HARRIS, the Personal Representative, Administrator for the Deceased Diane Geraldine Harris, Appellant (Plaintiff), v. Claude O. GRIZZLE, William F. Flick, Phillip M. Sharp, Memorial Hospital of Laramie County, Wyoming, William C. Nichols, in his official capacity as Administrator of Memorial Hospital of Laramie County, Wyoming, Harry P. Smith, F. Dean Stevens, John Pattno, Fred Baggs, and Carl Emerich, all in their official capacities as members of the Board of Trustees of Memorial Hospital of Laramie County, Wyoming, and the Board of Trustees of Memorial Hospital of Laramie County, Wyoming, Appellees(Defendants).
Docket NumberNo. 5080
Decision Date20 August 1979

Page 580

599 P.2d 580
Andrew Lawrence HARRIS, the Personal Representative, Administrator for the Deceased Diane Geraldine Harris, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
Claude O. GRIZZLE, William F. Flick, Phillip M. Sharp, Memorial Hospital of Laramie County, Wyoming, William C. Nichols, in his official capacity as Administrator of Memorial Hospital of Laramie County, Wyoming, Harry P. Smith, F. Dean Stevens, John Pattno, Fred Baggs, and Carl Emerich, all in their official capacities as members of the Board of Trustees of Memorial Hospital of Laramie County, Wyoming, and the Board of Trustees of Memorial Hospital of Laramie County, Wyoming, Appellees(Defendants).
No. 5080.
Supreme Court of Wyoming.
Aug. 20, 1979.

Page 582

Barbara Beck (argued), Cheyenne, for appellant.

Nick Kalokathis, of Lathrop & Uchner, P. C., Cheyenne, Lathrop (argued), for Flick and Sharp.

G. Joseph Cardine (argued), Laramie, for appellees Memorial Hospital of Laramie County, Wyoming, Nichols, Smith, Stevens, Pattno, Baggs, and Emerich.

No appearance for Grizzle.

Before RAPER, C. J., and McCLINTOCK, THOMAS, and ROSE, JJ., and GUTHRIE, J., Retired. *

RAPER, Chief Justice.

The appellant, as administrator of the estate of his deceased wife, seeks review of an order of the district court which dismissed his cause of action for her wrongful death against the appellees. 1 The appellant's wife was injured in an automobile accident on May 22, 1975. She was treated for her serious and disabling injuries and her condition stabilized for a time. She was readmitted to the appellee hospital on May 17, 1976, after which her condition steadily deteriorated until she died on August 1, 1976. On March 16, 1977, a wrongful death action was instituted against the driver of the vehicle who caused the disabling and ultimately fatal occurrence. On May 12, 1978, that action was settled for $13,000.00, and the suit was dismissed with prejudice. The appellant signed a general release absolving the defendant in that case from any further liability arising out of the automobile accident. No issue is raised questioning the validity or binding effect of any of these proceedings insofar as the defendant in the earlier suit is concerned. On May 18, 1978, a second suit for wrongful death was filed naming as defendants the appellees, deceased's treating surgeons and physician, the hospital where she was treated, its administrator and board of trustees. Appellant's original complaint was dismissed with leave to amend. An amended complaint was filed. The appellees moved to dismiss on several grounds. Those pertinent to this appeal are:

(1) The statute of limitations has run and the claims of the appellant are barred.

(2) The complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Page 583

(3) The appellant has split his cause of action and such is a bar to this action and the general release operates to release these appellees.

The district court granted the motion to dismiss without any statement of reason or reasons.

Appellant asserts: (1) Appellant's complaint stated a claim upon which relief can be granted; (2) The statute of limitations had not run 2; (3) Appellant has not split his cause of action against appellees between Docket 81 Number 298, in the District Court, First Judicial District, and this case, and therefore the present action is not barred; and (4) Release of the original tortfeasor did not release appellees from liability which they may have incurred through subsequent treatment of the deceased.

We will reverse.

Appellees first assert that appellant's complaint is insufficient to state a claim for which relief can be granted. They accuse appellant of "recklessly" filing a complaint which does not apprise appellees of the matters they are called upon to answer. A complaint should show that the pleader has a claim upon which he is entitled to relief. Watts v. Holmes, Wyo.1963, 386 P.2d 718, 719. Pleadings are to be construed liberally so as to do substantial justice. Sump v. City of Sheridan, Wyo.1961, 358 P.2d 637, 641-643. Under the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure, technical forms of pleading are not required, and each averment of pleading should be simple, concise and direct; whether the specificity standard has been satisfied as to be determined in terms of whether the pleadings give fair notice to the opposing party and not whether it contains conclusions. Guggenmos v. Tom Searl-Frank McCue, Inc., Wyo.1971, 481 P.2d 48, 51-52. In a wrongful death action, the pleadings should set out with reasonable certainty the acts on which the liability is based and all facts essential to constitute a legal cause of action for wrongful death. See Savage v. Town of Lander, 1957, 77 Wyo. 157, 309 P.2d 152, 154. The essentials of such a wrongful death complaint are: (1) the plaintiff's capacity to sue as personal representative of the deceased; (2) that the plaintiffs are the persons entitled by statute to damages; (3) allege sufficient facts to show in what particular the defendant or defendants were negligent; (4) that the defendants' negligence was the proximate cause of death; and (5) damages. §§ 1-38-101 and 1-38-102, W.S.1977; 2 Speiser, Recovery for Wrongful Death 2d, §§ 11:48-11:53, pp. 260-271 (1975). The sufficiency of the pleading with regard to any or all of these is a matter for determination within the context of each case.

The only question raised here, as we view the arguments presented by the parties, is that appellant failed to specifically allege in what particulars the defendants were negligent. The complaint states as to each of the defendants that there were failures: (1) to properly diagnose the deceased's condition; (2) to render careful and prudent treatment; (3) to examine deceased carefully; (4) to attend to deceased properly; (5) and to properly supervise associates, assistants and agents under their control in deceased's care and treatment. Under the liberal rules of pleading recognized by the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure and the decisions of this court, conclusory allegations as to negligence are permissible. If the...

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42 practice notes
  • Kilduff v. Adams, Inc., No. 14182
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • June 18, 1991
    ...v. St. Francis Hospital & School of Nursing, Inc., 212 Kan. 35, 40-41, 510 P.2d 145 (1973) (successive tortfeasors); Harris v. Grizzle, 599 P.2d 580, 585-86 (Wyo.1979) (successive tortfeasors); 4 Restatement (Second), Torts § 885(3), comment f; see generally annot., 39 A.L.R.3d 260, § 23 Th......
  • United Pacific Ins. Co. v. Wyoming Excise Tax Div., Dept. of Revenue and Taxation, No. 85-15
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • January 24, 1986
    ...Technical forms of pleading are not required so long as the complaint shows the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Harris v. Grizzle, Wyo., 599 P.2d 580, 583 (1979). Fair notice is the objective of a pleading. Johnson v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. of Hartford, Wyo., 608 P.2d 1299, 1302 (1980......
  • Bjork v. Chrysler Corp., No. 84-131
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • June 27, 1985
    ...calls for a different conclusion than that which would have been compelled by the common-law release rule. In Harris v. Grizzle, Wyo., 599 P.2d 580, 586 (1979), where the suit was against "successive tortfeasors," 18 we Page 156 "When a general release discloses it has been given to named [......
  • McInnis v. Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Inc., Civ. A. No. 82-0422-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • January 14, 1986
    ...(N.D.Ill. 1968) (applying California law); Hurt v. Leatherby Insurance Co., 380 So.2d 432, 433-34 (Fla.1980); cf. Harris v. Grizzle, 599 P.2d 580, 585-86 (Wyo.1979) (dealing with a release of "any claims" as opposed to a release of "all persons, firms or corporations"). The "intent" rule, i......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
42 cases
  • Kilduff v. Adams, Inc., No. 14182
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • June 18, 1991
    ...v. St. Francis Hospital & School of Nursing, Inc., 212 Kan. 35, 40-41, 510 P.2d 145 (1973) (successive tortfeasors); Harris v. Grizzle, 599 P.2d 580, 585-86 (Wyo.1979) (successive tortfeasors); 4 Restatement (Second), Torts § 885(3), comment f; see generally annot., 39 A.L.R.3d 260, § 23 Th......
  • United Pacific Ins. Co. v. Wyoming Excise Tax Div., Dept. of Revenue and Taxation, No. 85-15
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • January 24, 1986
    ...Technical forms of pleading are not required so long as the complaint shows the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Harris v. Grizzle, Wyo., 599 P.2d 580, 583 (1979). Fair notice is the objective of a pleading. Johnson v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. of Hartford, Wyo., 608 P.2d 1299, 1302 (1980......
  • Bjork v. Chrysler Corp., No. 84-131
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • June 27, 1985
    ...calls for a different conclusion than that which would have been compelled by the common-law release rule. In Harris v. Grizzle, Wyo., 599 P.2d 580, 586 (1979), where the suit was against "successive tortfeasors," 18 we Page 156 "When a general release discloses it has been given to named [......
  • McInnis v. Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Inc., Civ. A. No. 82-0422-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • January 14, 1986
    ...(N.D.Ill. 1968) (applying California law); Hurt v. Leatherby Insurance Co., 380 So.2d 432, 433-34 (Fla.1980); cf. Harris v. Grizzle, 599 P.2d 580, 585-86 (Wyo.1979) (dealing with a release of "any claims" as opposed to a release of "all persons, firms or corporations"). The "intent" rule, i......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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