TortsII-Immunities-Charities-Abernathy_v_SistersOfStMarys by aiowmnyv




Abernathy v. Sisters of St. Mary’s, Supreme Court of MO, 1969 Are charitable organizations immune from liability? Issue Reasoning
Immunity for charities rule was important when it was first established because charities important to the development of the state. It was better that one person suffer due to negligence of a charity than to deprive the whole public from its services.


Abernathy brought a suit for $35K against the Sisters of St Mary’s hospital because of the injuries he suffered as a result of one of hospital employee’ negligence.

Today’s charities are run like big business: with salaries, employees, etc. It makes sense for charities like this to “pay their own way”. Public liability insurance is available to charities and it is common knowledge that charities carry such part of their normal cost of business. 1) No indication that contributions are drying up because the doctrine is declining.

Immunity fosters neglect and breeds irresponsibility while liability promotes care and caution. A nongovernmental charitable institution is liable for its own negligence and for the negligence of its agents and employees acting within the scope of their employment He who accepts the benefit of a charity impliedly agrees not to suit it.

The hospital is operated as a charitable, religious, non-profit organization.

It is unjust not to compensate ∏s injured by charities’ negligence. Everybody stands equal before the law. 2) Implied Waiver: Doesn’t make sense. Say someone unconscious or a child, or insane is injured, surely we’re gonna let them sue. So, then, the rule would apply to some people but not others? It cannot be applied alike to everyone therefore it is a fallacy to fallacy to rely on rule to support immunity as public policy 3) Trust Fund: This emphasizes the right of satisfaction rather than the rights of the injured. 4) It’s a common law rule – courts don’t need to wait for the legislature.

Charities fund are to be used for charity and not to pay claims.

Held Procedure P argues D argues

Reversed and remanded for further proceedings ∏ sued for personal injuries. ∆ moved and was granted summary judgment based on immunity of charitable institutions doctrine. ∏ appeals. 1) If we have to pay for tort claims, then no one will donate to us anymore. 2) Implied Waiver theory 3) Trust Fund theory 4) Rule as public policy is so engrained in our law that it should be changed by legislature rather than court

To top