Wheeler v. St. Clair County Hospital Dist. No. 1

Decision Date12 September 1977
Docket NumberNo. 60012,60012
Citation557 S.W.2d 233
PartiesJohn Wesley WHEELER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ST. CLAIR COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT NO. 1, a/k/a Osceola Hospital District, d/b/a Sac-Osage Hospital, Defendant-Respondent.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Glenn Burkart, Springfield, for plaintiff-appellant.

Robert J. Keeter, Springfield, for defendant-respondent.

SEILER, Judge.

A summary judgment was granted defendant hospital district on its plea of sovereign immunity in this action by plaintiff for the wrongful death of his wife, a patient in the hospital, resulting from a fire which allegedly was caused by the defendant's negligence. The court of appeals, Springfield district, affirmed the action of the trial court. On application of plaintiff, we ordered transfer. This case is one of several which were argued in this court on the same date involving the question of governmental immunity for tort liability and its disposition on this appeal is controlled by our decision handed down this same date in the case of Jones v. State Highway Commission, Mo., 557 S.W.2d 225. For the reasons there set forth, we hold that the defense of governmental immunity from tort liability is no longer available as a defense in this case.

The judgment is reversed and the cause is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent herewith.


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


Plaintiff has filed a motion for rehearing or in the alternative to modify the opinion to extend the abrogation of the defense of sovereign immunity to six other civil actions growing out of the same hospital fire from which the present case arose, all timely filed and pending in the circuit court of St. Clair County, awaiting that court's determination of motions for summary judgments filed by defendant hospital district based upon the defense of sovereign immunity. All of these cases are for wrongful deaths. Three were filed in May-July, 1975 and the other three in November-December, 1976. The same attorneys represent defendant hospital district in the other cases as in the present case. In five of the six cases the same attorneys representing plaintiff in the present case represent plaintiffs in those cases. Counsel for plaintiff states that these six cases were "by common understanding of counsel in the trial court, permitted to remain pending on said motions for summary judgments to await appellate determination of the trial court's sustension of the motion for summary judgment in the instant case, thereby converting the instant case into a test case, the result of which would be controlling upon disposition of the pending motions for summary judgments in said six other cases." Counsel for plaintiff states further that the present case "was arbitrarily selected by the counsel for appellant with agreement of counsel for respondent as the case to be determined on appeal in order to expedite appellate review and minimize expense in the form of multiple transcripts on appeal, appellate docket fees, briefs and the expenditure of time."

Counsel for plaintiff relies upon the Illinois decision of Molitor v. Kaneland Community Unit District, No. 302, 24 Ill.2d 467, 192 N.E.2d 145 (1962), which he says involves a similar situation. In Illinois in 1959 in the first Molitor case, the Illinois court abolished sovereign immunity as to school districts. The first case to be appealed involved only Thomas Molitor,...

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7 cases
  • Jones v. State Highway Commission
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • 12 September 1977
    ...who was entering the building to register for a night class, slipped on a wet spot in the school hallway; No. 60012, Wheeler v. St. Clair Hospital District, 557 S.W.2d 233, a claim against a hospital district for a death growing out of a hospital fire allegedly caused by the hospital's negl......
  • Winston v. Reorganized School Dist. R-2, Lawrence County, Miller
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • 2 August 1982
    ...See, (1) Jones v. State Highway Commission, 557 S.W.2d 225 (Mo. banc 1977) (state highway design defect); (2) 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 1......
  • Hill v. Boles
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • 27 June 1979
    ...557 S.W.2d 225, 231(11) (Mo.1977), Prewitt v. Parkway School District, 557 S.W.2d 232 (Mo.1977), and Wheeler v. St. Clair County Hospital District No. 1, 557 S.W.2d 233 (Mo.1977). In fact, in Abernathy, supra, the Court clearly refused to delay the effective date in the change of the law to......
  • Bailey v. City of St. Louis, 40516
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 30 January 1979
    ...225 (Mo. banc 1977). 2 Strong v. Curators of Univ. of Mo., 575 S.W.2d 812 (Mo.App., E. Dist., 1978). See also, Wheeler v. St. Clair County Hosp. District No. 1, 557 S.W.2d 233 (Mo. banc Affirmed. REINHARD, P. J., and CLEMENS, J., concur. 1 The City carries no policies of insurance under eit......
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