State ex rel. Racer v. Richardson, 60042

Decision Date12 September 1977
Docket NumberNo. 60042,60042
Citation557 S.W.2d 235
PartiesSTATE ex rel. David RACER, and Betty S. Racer, Plaintiffs-Relators, v. The Honorable Orville RICHARDSON, Special Judge of the Circuit Court of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, Respondent.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

John W. Reid, II, Fredericktown, for plaintiffs-relators.

Robert A. Wulff, St. Louis, for respondent.

SEILER, Judge.

Relators originally brought an action as plaintiffs against defendant Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital and its insurer, St. Paul Insurance Company, among others, for injuries allegedly sustained by Mrs. Racer while under a general anesthetic during a surgical procedure known as a dilation and curretage, performed in this instance to stop excessive and abnormal uterine bleeding. During the course of the operation, an electrocautery unit ignited a sponge which was being used to keep the cervix free of blood. The operating physician threw the burning sponge to the side and it landed on the surgical drape covering Mrs. Racer. The drape burst into flames causing serious burns. The hospital and its insurer filed a motion to dismiss. The trial judge indicated his intention to sustain the motion on the basis that the doctrine of sovereign immunity is the law of Missouri. Relators then sought prohibition to prevent respondent judge from sustaining the motion. Our provisional rule issued which we now make absolute.

For the reasons set forth in the case of Jones v. State Highway Commission, Mo., 557 S.W.2d 225, which was argued at the same time as the present case and which is being handed down this same date, we hold that the defense of sovereign immunity from tort liability is no longer available as a defense in this case.

Preliminary rule is made absolute.


MORGAN, C. J., and HENLEY and DONNELLY, JJ., dissent.

With respect to immunity from suit, there is no problem because, while the statutes providing for establishment and maintenance of county hospitals are silent as to whether such hospitals can sue or be sued, § 205.160, RSMo 1969, authorizes the county court to establish public hospitals and such hospitals are operated by an elected board of trustees, five in number. See §§ 205.170, 205.180, 205.270, 205.280, RSMo 1969.

A county, even though a political subdivision of the state, is subject to suit. Section 506.150, RSMo ...

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5 cases
  • Jones v. State Highway Commission
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • September 12, 1977
    ...district for a death growing out of a hospital fire allegedly caused by the hospital's negligence and No. 60042, State ex rel. Racer v. Richardson, 557 S.W.2d 235, a malpractice claim against a county hospital by a The question presented is whether sovereign immunity against tort liability ......
  • Winston v. Reorganized School Dist. R-2, Lawrence County, Miller
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • August 2, 1982
    ...Wheeler v. St. Clair County Hosp. Dist. No. 1, 557 S.W.2d 233 (Mo. banc 1977) (county hospital fire causing death); (3) State ex rel. Racer v. Richardson, 557 S.W.2d 235 (Mo. banc 1977) (medical malpractice by employees of county hospital). It is not unreasonable to blanket governmental age......
  • Conner v. Crawford County, 11061
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • October 9, 1979
    ...The judgment is affirmed. All concur. 1 Wheeler v. St. Clair County Hosp. Dist. No. 1, 557 S.W.2d 233 (Mo. banc 1977); State ex rel. Racer v. Richardson, 557 S.W.2d 235 (Mo. banc 1977); Prewitt v. Parkway School District, 557 S.W.2d 232 (Mo. banc 1977).§§ 537.600-537.650, RSMo 1978, provide......
  • Strong v. Curators of University of Missouri
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • December 5, 1978
    ...557 S.W.2d 232 (Mo. banc 1977); Wheeler v. St. Clair County Hosp. Dist. No. 1, 557 S.W.2d 233 (Mo. banc 1977); State ex rel. Racer v. Richardson, 557 S.W.2d 235 (Mo. banc 1977).3 Sections 537.600-537.650, 1978 Mo.Legis.Serv., effective August 13, 1978, provide for conditions of sovereign im......
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