Linder v. Foster, No. 32375.

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtGallagher
Citation209 Minn. 43,295 N.W. 299
Docket NumberNo. 32375.
Decision Date13 December 1940
PartiesLINDER v. FOSTER et al.
295 N.W. 299
209 Minn. 43
LINDER
v.
FOSTER et al.
No. 32375.
Supreme Court of Minnesota.
December 13, 1940.

Appeal from District Court, Hennepin County; E. A. Montgomery, Judge.

Action by Eugenia Linder against Hazel Foster and others for alleged malicious prosecution arising out of plaintiff's commitment to a state insane asylum. From an order sustaining demurrers to the complaint by defendants other than defendant Hazel Foster, upon whom summons and complaint were not served, plaintiff appeals.

Affirmed.

Paul N. Casserly, of Minneapolis, for appellant.

[209 Minn. 44]

Edward J. Shannon and Karl W. Windhorst, Sp. Asst. Co. Attys., both of Minneapolis, for respondent Donald C. Bennyhoff.

Faegre, Benson, & Krause and Raymond A. Scallen, all of Minneapolis, for respondents Alex G. Dumas and Royal C. Gray.

GALLAGHER, Chief Justice.


Plaintiff instituted an action against Hazel Foster, a supervisor of public relief in the city of Minneapolis, Donald C. Bennyhoff, court commissioner of Hennepin County, and Alex G. Dumas and Royal C. Gray, Minneapolis physicians, for malicious prosecution arising out of her commitment to a state insane asylum. The summons and complaint were not served on defendant Foster. Each of the other defendants demurred to the complaint on the ground that it did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. This appeal is from an order sustaining the separate demurrers.

295 N.W. 300

The complaint alleges in substance that defendants Foster and Bennyhoff, having developed hatred and malice for plaintiff, conspired in a plot to wrong, harm, and injure her; that as a part of said plot they persuaded plaintiff's brother to sign a complaint which instituted an insanity proceeding against plaintiff; that the contents of said complaint were misrepresented to plaintiff's brother and that he later repudiated the same; that regardless of said repudiation defendants Foster and Bennyhoff proceeded with said insanity hearing; that defendant Bennyhoff appointed defendants Dr. Dumas and Dr. Gray to examine plaintiff and make findings as to her mentality; that said defendants Dumas and Gray, after such examination, made findings to the effect that plaintiff was insane; that based upon said findings defendant Bennyhoff made an order committing plaintiff to the state insane hospital at Rochester, Minnesota, where she remained from April 5, 1937, to December 22, 1937. It further alleges that, "designing, contriving and maliciously intending to wrong, harm and injure the plaintiff, the defendants, and all of them, willfully and maliciously conspired together to find her insane and cause her to be committed

209 Minn. 45

to a state hospital for the insane; that such conspiracy was entered into previous to any proceeding or action against the plaintiff, having for its purpose the wrongful committing her to an insane asylum; that such plot or conspiracy was not done, or planned, in the course of any judicial proceeding, but prior thereto and separate and distinct therefrom; that all proceedings taken against her were without probable cause." Plaintiff demands judgment against defendants for the expenses incurred by her in being restored to capacity and for the humiliation she suffered because of defendants' alleged wrongful acts.

1. In attempting to plead a cause of action against defendant Bennyhoff plaintiff is confronted with the rule that a judge is not liable in a civil action to anyone for his judicial acts, however erroneous, or by whatever motives prompted. 3 Dunnell, Minn.Dig., 2 Ed. & Supps., § 4959; 30 Am.Jur., Judges, § 43; 2 Cooley, Torts, 4th Ed., p. 420. This rule was first recognized by this court in Stewart v. Cooley, 23 Minn. 347, 23 Am.Rep. 690, wherein Stewart, an attorney, brought suit against several defendants, including Cooley, a municipal judge, for the malicious prosecution of a criminal action in which Stewart was charged with perjury. The trial court sustained a demurrer to the complaint, but for reasons which will hereinafter be referred to the decision was over-ruled by this court. However, the immunity rule was recognized and referred to by this court speaking through Mr. Justice Cornell. We quote therefrom (23 Minn. 350): "Hence, the doctrine has become settled that, for acts done in the exercise of judicial authority, clearly conferred, an officer or judge shall not be held liable to any one in a civil action, so that he may feel free to act upon his own convictions, uninfluenced by any fear or apprehension of consequences personal to himself. Yates v. Lansing, 5 Johns. [N.Y.] 282; [Id.] 9 Johns. [N.Y.] 395 [6 Am.Dec. 290]; Rochester White Lead Co. v. City of Rochester, 3 N.Y. 463 [53 Am.Dec. 316]; Stewart v. Hawley, 21 Wend. [N.Y.] 552; Weaver v. Devendorf, 3 Denio [N.Y.] 117; Harman v. Brotherson, 1 Denio 537; Wilson v. Mayor, etc., of New York, 1 Denio [N.Y.] 595 [43 Am.Dec. 719];

209 Minn. 46

Randall v. Brigham, 7 Wall. 523 [19 L.Ed. 285]; Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. 335 [20 L.Ed. 646]."

The rule was next applied in Stewart v. Case, 53 Minn. 62, 66, 54 N.W. 938, 39 Am.St.Rep. 575, where it was held that an assessor was entitled to its protection. There Chief Justice Gilfillan, speaking for the court, said: "It is unquestionable, and has been from the earliest days of the common law, that a judicial officer cannot be called to account in a civil action for his determinations and acts in his judicial capacity, however erroneous or by whatever motives prompted. This rule and the reason for it are nowhere more clearly and emphatically stated than by Mr. Justice Cornell in Stewart v. Cooley, 23 Minn. [347] 350 [23 Am.Rep. 690]." It was applied or referred to with approval in several later cases. Murray v. Mills, 56 Minn. 75, 57 N.W. 324; Melady v. South St. Paul Live Stock Exch., 142 Minn. 194, 171 N.W. 806; Roerig v. Houghton, 144 Minn. 231, 175 N.W. 542; Wilbrecht v. Babcock, 179 Minn. 263, 228 N.W. 916.

The principle of judicial immunity is generally recognized by the courts of other states, by the federal courts, and by the courts of England. 2 Cooley, Torts, 4th Ed., c. 14, p. 420; 30 Am.Jur., Judges, §§ 43 to 51, pp. 755-766 (see cases cited

295 N.W. 301

on page 756); Jaffarian v....

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36 practice notes
  • Bruce v. Byrne-Stevens & Associates Engineers, Inc., BYRNE-STEVENS
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 20 Julio 1989
    ...Scott Cy., 618 F.Supp. 1534, 1575 (D.Minn.1985); Kravitz v. State, 8 Cal.App.3d 301, 87 Cal.Rptr. Page 128 352 (1970); Linder v. Foster, 209 Minn. 43, 45, 295 N.W. 299 The Court of Appeals found Bader distinguishable, arguing: "Such immunity certainly would not apply to an expert retained b......
  • Hoppe v. Klapperich, Nos. 34312
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 27 Junio 1947
    ...immunity is recognized generally by all American courts, both state and federal, and by the courts of England. See, Linder v. Foster, 209 Minn. 43, 46, 295 N.W. 299, 300, and the authorities therein cited. The immunity doctrine has always been recognized by this court. ‘* * * Hence, the doc......
  • Peterson v. Knutson, No. 45333
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 8 Agosto 1975
    ...v. Clark, 249 F.Supp. 720 (S.D.Ala.1965); Hoppe v. Klapperich, 224 Minn. 224, 28 N.W.2d 780 (1947); Payne v. Lee, supra; Linder v. Foster, 209 Minn. 43, 295 N.W. 299 (1940); Murray v. Mills, 56 Minn. 75, 57 N.W. 324 (1894); Stewart v. Case, 53 Minn. 62, 54 N.W. 938 (1893); Stewart v. Cooley......
  • Drexler v. Walters, No. 4-67 Civ. 390.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • 23 Septiembre 1968
    ...Meredith v. Van Oosterhout, 286 F.2d 216 (8th Cir. 1960) cert. denied 365 U.S. 835, 81 S.Ct. 749, 5 L.Ed. 2d 745; Linder v. Foster, 209 Minn. 43, 295 N.W. 299 (1940) (court 3 Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 87 S.Ct. 1213, 18 L.Ed.2d 288 (1967); Rhodes v. Meyer, 334 F.2d 709 (8th Cir. 1964), c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
36 cases
  • Bruce v. Byrne-Stevens & Associates Engineers, Inc., BYRNE-STEVENS
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 20 Julio 1989
    ...Scott Cy., 618 F.Supp. 1534, 1575 (D.Minn.1985); Kravitz v. State, 8 Cal.App.3d 301, 87 Cal.Rptr. Page 128 352 (1970); Linder v. Foster, 209 Minn. 43, 45, 295 N.W. 299 The Court of Appeals found Bader distinguishable, arguing: "Such immunity certainly would not apply to an expert retained b......
  • Hoppe v. Klapperich, Nos. 34312
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 27 Junio 1947
    ...immunity is recognized generally by all American courts, both state and federal, and by the courts of England. See, Linder v. Foster, 209 Minn. 43, 46, 295 N.W. 299, 300, and the authorities therein cited. The immunity doctrine has always been recognized by this court. ‘* * * Hence, the doc......
  • Peterson v. Knutson, No. 45333
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 8 Agosto 1975
    ...v. Clark, 249 F.Supp. 720 (S.D.Ala.1965); Hoppe v. Klapperich, 224 Minn. 224, 28 N.W.2d 780 (1947); Payne v. Lee, supra; Linder v. Foster, 209 Minn. 43, 295 N.W. 299 (1940); Murray v. Mills, 56 Minn. 75, 57 N.W. 324 (1894); Stewart v. Case, 53 Minn. 62, 54 N.W. 938 (1893); Stewart v. Cooley......
  • Drexler v. Walters, No. 4-67 Civ. 390.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • 23 Septiembre 1968
    ...Meredith v. Van Oosterhout, 286 F.2d 216 (8th Cir. 1960) cert. denied 365 U.S. 835, 81 S.Ct. 749, 5 L.Ed. 2d 745; Linder v. Foster, 209 Minn. 43, 295 N.W. 299 (1940) (court 3 Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 87 S.Ct. 1213, 18 L.Ed.2d 288 (1967); Rhodes v. Meyer, 334 F.2d 709 (8th Cir. 1964), c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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