Hunt v. Ernzen, No. 2-58243

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtHeard by MOORE; UHLENHOPP
Citation252 N.W.2d 445
Docket NumberNo. 2-58243
Decision Date20 April 1977
PartiesRoger HUNT, a minor, by David Hunt, his father and next friend, Plaintiff, v. Clarence ERNZEN and Dyersville Community Hospital Corporation, Defendants. Clarence ERNZEN, Appellant, v. DYERSVILLE COMMUNITY HOSPITAL CORPORATION, Appellee.

Page 445

252 N.W.2d 445
Roger HUNT, a minor, by David Hunt, his father and next friend, Plaintiff,
v.
Clarence ERNZEN and Dyersville Community Hospital Corporation, Defendants.
Clarence ERNZEN, Appellant,
v.
DYERSVILLE COMMUNITY HOSPITAL CORPORATION, Appellee.
No. 2-58243.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
April 20, 1977.

Page 446

Fuerste, Carew & Coyle, Dubuque, for appellant.

Lane & Waterman by Dana M. Craig, Davenport, for appellee.

Heard by MOORE, C. J., and MASON, UHLENHOPP, HARRIS and McCORMICK, JJ.

UHLENHOPP, Justice.

This appeal involves problems of indemnity and contribution between tortfeasors.

Clarence Ernzen spent most of the day and evening in a tavern and became intoxicated. With him he had his minor grandson, Roger Hunt. That evening, trying to find his way home in his car, with Roger as a passenger, Ernzen drove into a ditch injuring Roger. The fact of Ernzen's culpability is not in dispute.

Roger was taken to the Dyersville Community Hospital for treatment of his injuries. About 36 hours later, a hospital nurse injected a drug into Roger's buttock. She did so negligently, injuring a nerve and causing Roger permanent foot drop an injury distinct from Roger's auto mishap injuries.

By next friend, Roger sued Ernzen and the hospital for damages Ernzen for all the injuries and the hospital for the foot drop injuries. Roger based his case against Ernzen on recklessness and intoxication and his case against the hospital on the negligence of its nurse. No one claims that Roger was negligent in the selection of the hospital for treatment. The fact is also undisputed that the hospital treated Roger for the injuries he sustained when the car went into the ditch.

The parties eventually settled Roger's claims; the foot drop injury claim they settled by Ernzen's paying $11,200 and the hospital paying $25,000. No one questions the prudence of the settlement. (The tavern operator also made a payment, but that is not involved here.)

Ernzen then sought indemnification by the hospital for the sum of $11,200 he paid Roger on the foot drop injury, and the hospital sought contribution of $6900 from Ernzen, arrived at in the following way. Ernzen and the hospital together paid $36,200 on the foot drop injury, half of which would be $18,100. The hospital paid $25,000, or $6900 more than its half, and sought that sum of $6900 from Ernzen.

Ernzen and the hospital each moved to dismiss the other's claim for indemnity and counterclaim for contribution, and the trial court sustained both motions. Ernzen appealed and the hospital cross appealed. We regard the hospital and its nurse as a unit for indemnity and contribution purposes as between the hospital and Ernzen. See Schnebly v. Baker, 217 N.W.2d 708 (Iowa).

I. Ernzen's Indemnity Claim. Ernzen directly caused only the injuries sustained in the auto mishap. The hospital through its employee directly caused the injury involved here, the foot drop. In 1871 this court approved a jury instruction which stated, " 'But if in the selection of a physician, and in the use of other means for effecting a cure, she (the injured person) used reasonable and ordinary care, her damages

Page 447

should not be diminished, notwithstanding you may find that, by a more skillful treatment, her sufferings might have been alleviated and her condition improved.' " Collins v. City of Council Bluffs, 32 Iowa 324, 329. Subsequently the court again approved such an instruction, and it disapproved a requested instruction disallowing damages from the original wrongdoer for injuries caused by neglect of a surgeon. Rice v. City of Des Moines, 40 Iowa 638. In common with the rule generally throughout the country, the Iowa rule now is

to regard the surgeon as a reasonably necessary adjunct to the recovery of the patient in personal injury cases. The wrongdoer is charged with notice of that fact and under the rules of law is rendered chargeable for the value of such surgical services and for all its hazards. If the surgeon prove neglectful or unskillful, his acts are deemed an aggravation of the injury, and their evil consequences, if any, are chargeable to the wrongdoer to the same extent as though he had perpetrated the negligence. Paine v. Wyatt, 217 Iowa 1147, 1149, 251 N.W. 78, 79.

The same rule applies as to hospitals which are neglectful or unskillful in care or treatment. Bradshaw v. Iowa Methodist Hosp., 251 Iowa 375,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
17 practice notes
  • Tralon Corp. v. Cedarapids, Inc., No. C 95-195-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • May 20, 1997
    ...that another person should bear; it places the final responsibility where equity would lay the ultimate burden." Hunt v. Ernzen, 252 N.W.2d 445, 448 (Iowa 1977); accord McCarthy v. J.P. Cullen & Son Corp., 199 N.W.2d 362, 371 (Iowa) ("The overriding purpose of indemnity is to place the loss......
  • Lee v. Small, No. C 10-4034-MWB
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • November 22, 2011
    ...127 F. Supp. 730, 732.Bradshaw v. Iowa Methodist Hosp., 251 Iowa 375, 386-87, 101 N.W.2d 167, 173-74 (1960); see also Hunt v. Ernzen, 252 N.W.2d 445, 446-47 (Iowa 1977) (citing an evenPage 28older source for the rule in Iowa, Collins v. City of Council Bluffs, 32 Iowa 324, 329 (1871), and a......
  • Lee v. Small, No. C 10–4034–MWB.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • November 22, 2011
    ...].Bradshaw v. Iowa Methodist Hosp., 251 Iowa 375, 386–87, 101 N.W.2d 167, 173–74 (1960); see also [829 F.Supp.2d 748] Hunt v. Ernzen, 252 N.W.2d 445, 446–47 (Iowa 1977) (citing an even older source for the rule in Iowa, Collins v. City of Council Bluffs, 32 Iowa 324, 329 (1871), and also ci......
  • Kemper National P & C Companies v. Smith
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 20, 1992
    ...Lakes, 382 So.2d 702 (Fla.1980) (subrogation); Gertz v. Campbell, 55 Ill.2d 84, 302 N.E.2d 40 (1973) (indemnity); Hunt v. Ernzen, 252 N.W.2d 445 (Iowa 1977) (indemnity); Gulick v. Kentucky Fried Chicken Manufacturing Corp., 73 Mich.App. 746, 252 N.W.2d 540 (1977) (indemnity); New Milford Bo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Tralon Corp. v. Cedarapids, Inc., No. C 95-195-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • May 20, 1997
    ...that another person should bear; it places the final responsibility where equity would lay the ultimate burden." Hunt v. Ernzen, 252 N.W.2d 445, 448 (Iowa 1977); accord McCarthy v. J.P. Cullen & Son Corp., 199 N.W.2d 362, 371 (Iowa) ("The overriding purpose of indemnity is to place the loss......
  • Lee v. Small, No. C 10-4034-MWB
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • November 22, 2011
    ...127 F. Supp. 730, 732.Bradshaw v. Iowa Methodist Hosp., 251 Iowa 375, 386-87, 101 N.W.2d 167, 173-74 (1960); see also Hunt v. Ernzen, 252 N.W.2d 445, 446-47 (Iowa 1977) (citing an evenPage 28older source for the rule in Iowa, Collins v. City of Council Bluffs, 32 Iowa 324, 329 (1871), and a......
  • Lee v. Small, No. C 10–4034–MWB.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • November 22, 2011
    ...].Bradshaw v. Iowa Methodist Hosp., 251 Iowa 375, 386–87, 101 N.W.2d 167, 173–74 (1960); see also [829 F.Supp.2d 748] Hunt v. Ernzen, 252 N.W.2d 445, 446–47 (Iowa 1977) (citing an even older source for the rule in Iowa, Collins v. City of Council Bluffs, 32 Iowa 324, 329 (1871), and also ci......
  • Kemper National P & C Companies v. Smith
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 20, 1992
    ...Lakes, 382 So.2d 702 (Fla.1980) (subrogation); Gertz v. Campbell, 55 Ill.2d 84, 302 N.E.2d 40 (1973) (indemnity); Hunt v. Ernzen, 252 N.W.2d 445 (Iowa 1977) (indemnity); Gulick v. Kentucky Fried Chicken Manufacturing Corp., 73 Mich.App. 746, 252 N.W.2d 540 (1977) (indemnity); New Milford Bo......
  • 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