Tackett v. Terrill, 4054

Decision Date13 May 1966
Docket NumberNo. 4054,4054
PartiesLanelle Harbin TACKETT et vir, Appellants, v. Bruce S. TERRILL, Appellee.
CourtTexas Court of Appeals

Clyde V. Sweeney, Stephenville, for appellants.

Lucian Touchstone, Touchstone, Bernays & Johnston, Dallas, Ennis Favors, Stephenville, for appellee.

COLLINGS, Justice.

Lanelle Harbin brought suit in the District Court against Dr. Bruce S. Terrill. Plaintiff alleged that she was the wife of Judge Dale W. Harbin prior to his death on July 6, 1961; that after the death of her husband, Dr. Terrill performed a wrongful and unauthorized autopsy on his body; that such action by the defendant was a trespass and a crime, which caused plaintiff to suffer great mental anguish, distress and damages. Thereafter, it was suggested to the court that plaintiff Lanelle Harbin had married Jess J. Tackett and he was made a party plaintiff. The trial was to a jury and based upon the verdict, judgment was rendered against the plaintiffs and in favor of the defendant, Dr. Bruce S. Terrill. The plaintiffs have appealed.

The jury found that Mrs. Lanelle Harbin Tackett gave Dr. Bruce Terrill permission to perform an autopsy on her husband, Dale W. Harbin, on July 6, 1961. Appellants urge there is no evidence that Mrs. Tackett ever granted permission for Dr. Terrill to perform an autopsy on the body of her deceased husband; that the undisputed evidence shows appellant refused permission for an autopsy; that the undisputed evidence shows that Dr. Terrill attempted to justify the autopsy, rather than show that Mrs. Tackett granted permission therefor and that the undisputed evidence shows that Dr. Terrill intentionally performed the autopsy without the consent of appellant.

The record does show, as urged by appellants, that Dr. Terrill attempted to justify the autopsy. The controlling question, however, is whether there is evidence to support the jury finding that Mrs. Lanelle Harbin Tackett gave Dr. Terrill permission to perform the autopsy. There was testimony that Mrs. Tackett refused to grant permission for the autopsy. She so testified, and there was other testimony to the same effect. This testimony, however, was not undisputed. It is undisputed that Mrs. Tackett at first refused to give permission for the autopsy. Dr. Terrill, himself, testified that he met Lanelle Harbin Tackett when she arrived at her home in Stephenville after the death of her husband in Fort Worth; that he was family physician and felt there should be an autopsy to determine the cause of Judge Harbin's death. Dr. Terrill testified that he advised Mrs. Tackett of his opinion in this respect and that she, at that time, interrupted him...

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1 cases
  • Canal Ins. Co. v. Hopkins
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • October 24, 2007
    ...that Sweeney could give consent under section 2303.003(a).2 In this case, the issue of consent was a question of fact. See Tackett v. Terrill, 404 S.W.2d 158, 160 (Tex.Civ.App.-Eastland 1966, no writ) ("[I]t is apparent that whether the widow consented or not [to an autopsy of her late husb......

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