Milks v. McIver

Decision Date17 April 1934
Citation264 N.Y. 267,190 N.E. 487
PartiesMILKS et al. v. McIVER et al.
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals


Action by Mabel E. Milks, an infant under fourteen years of age, by Roland Milks, her guardian ad litem, and by Roland Milks, individually, against M. A. McIver and another. Judgment of Special Term dismissing the complaint against defendant named (147 Misc. 297, 263 N. Y. S. 595), was affirmed by the Appellate Division (240 App. Div. 927, 267 N. Y. S. 979), and plaintiff appeals.


Appeal from Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third department.

Sharon J. Mauhs, of Cobleskill, and Michael D. Reilly, of Albany, for appellants.

George B. Smith and Lawrence V. Benedict, both of Schenectady, for respondents.

LEHMAN, Judge.

The infant plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident. She was taken to a hospital and received treatment there. After her discharge from the hospital her guardian ad litem received from the owner and the operator of the automobile truck which had struck her the sum of $3,384 as consideration for the execution of a release of all claims against them for damages resulting from the automobile accident. Then she brought this action to recover damages which, it is alleged, she sustained through negligent treatment while in the hospital. The attending physician moved to dismiss the complaint against him, on the ground that the claims or demands against him set forth in the complaint have been released. Rule 107 of the Rules of Civil Practice. The motion was granted and judgment entered dismissing the complaint against him. The hospital did not join in the motion.

Upon this appeal we must assume that the allegations of the complaint can be establishedby proof, even though the affidavit states that ‘all of the treatment and care were rendered in a careful and skillful manner.’ The question is whether the complaint alleges a cause of action for damages which resulted from the negligence of the original tort-feasors and for which satisfaction has been accepted. The general release of all claims against the original tort-feasors was made without reservation. A general release to one tort-feasor made without reservation creates a bar to an action for damages against another tort-feasor, arising from the same injury. A physical injury sustained through the negligence of one person may be cured by the skill of a physician, or aggravated through his negligence. The negligence of the physician may then give rise to a cause of action against him, to recover the damages which the injured person would not otherwise have sustained. It may be argued that the original wrongdoer who caused the injury and the physician whose negligence aggravated the injury are not, in technical sense, joint tort-feasors. Nevertheless their wrongs coalesced and resulted in damage which would not have been sustained but for the original injury. A wrongdoer is responsible for the proximate result of his wrong. What constitutes a proximate result is not a problem of philosophy. ‘The law solves these problems pragmatically.’ Bird v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 224 N. Y. 47, 52,120 N. E. 86, 87, 13 A. L. R. 875. Fortuitous circumstances may divert the flow of cause to effect from its natural course. New streams of greater volume and force may join the flow. Liability for damages caused by wrong ceases at a point dictated by public policy or common sense. In some situations the courts have established a definite rule of limitation. In others the test is one only of degree.

The rule is now well established that a wrongdoer is liable for the ultimate result, though the mistake or even negligence of the physician who treated the injury may have increased the damage which would otherwise have followed from the original wrong. Cf. Lyons v. Erie R. Co., 57 N. Y. 489;Sauter v. New York Cent. & H. R. R. Co., 66 N. Y. 50, 23 Am. Rep. 18;Wagner v. Mittendorf, 232 N. Y. 481, 134 N. E. 539, 20 A. L. R. 520. In such case satisfaction by the original wrongdoer of all damages caused by his wrong bars action against the negligent physician who aggravated the damage. The law does not permit a double satisfaction...

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  • McCarthy v. Olin Corp.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • July 16, 1997
    ...the injury may have increased the damage which would otherwise have followed from the original wrong' ") (quoting Milks v. McIver, 264 N.Y. 267, 190 N.E. 487, 488 (1934)). Moreover, in cases such as this one involving the introduction of goods into the stream of commerce, New York courts ha......
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  • Salonia v. Samsol Homes, Inc.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • October 20, 1986
    ... ... Prewitt, 12 N.Y.2d 100, 103, 105-106, 236 N.Y.S.2d 953, 187 N.E.2d 556; Milks v. McIver, 264 N.Y. 267, 270, 190 N.E. 487). Conversely, however, the liability of Miller and Kings Highway Orthopedic Group is limited to the ... ...
  • Zarcone v. Perry
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • December 15, 1980
    ...has been delivered to one tortfeasor and others seek to take advantage of it (see, e. g., Derby v. Prewitt, supra; Milks v. McIver, 264 N.Y. 267, 270, 190 N.E. 487). Accordingly, in Milks it was said (at p. 270, 190 N.E. 487): "In such case satisfaction by the original wrongdoer of all dama......
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