Geraldine Durney, an infant, by her next friend, Edward J. Durney, brought action against the St. Francis Hospital, Inc., a charitable corporation of the State of Delaware, for burns and lacerations sustained by child when hot water bottles were placed in its bassinette in the hospital delivery room a short time after birth. The defendant moved for summary judgment. The Superior Court, Richards, P. J., held that whether hospital was negligent by failing to provide proper equipment in delivery room, or whether agents or employees of hospital were negligent by failing to properly care for the child, were questions for jury.
Motion for summary judgment denied.
In action against hospital for burns and lacerations of newborn child allegedly caused by placing hot water bottles in bassinette in the delivery room, whether hospital was negligent by failing to provide proper equipment in delivery room or whether agents or employees of hospital were negligent by failing to properly care for the child were questions for jury.
[46 Del. 351] Action by the plaintiff, an infant, by her father as next friend, brought to recover for injuries which were received by her shortly after her birth in the hospital maintained by the defendant.
It appears from the complaint and affidavits filed by both the plaintiff and defendant, that on October 14, 1946, Mrs. Edward Durney, a patient of Dr. Willard Preston, an obstetrician duly licensed to practice in the State of Delaware, was admitted to the maternity unit of the hospital conducted by the defendant; that while in one of the delivery rooms of the hospital attended by Dr. Preston, Dr. Arcia, a resident physician of the hospital, who acted as an anesthetist, Miss Jane Nowack who acted as scrub nurse and Miss Helen Slivka, who acted as circulating nurse, she gave birth to twins; that immediately after the birth of the twins they were placed in separate bassinettes in the delivery room, where hot water bottles were placed under the covering of each bassinette by Miss Slivka to warm the children, upon the instructions of Dr. Preston; that because of the serious condition of Mrs. Durney both the doctors and nurses were unable to pay
much attention to the children for approximately an hour after the birth of the second child, at which [46 Del. 352] time they were taken to the nursery by Miss Nowack where she undressed them and found that the plaintiff had burns on her head and body.
The first count of the complaint charges that the defendant, acting through its servants, agents and employees, undertook to care for, maintain, supervise and treat the plaintiff, and that said defendant through its servants, agents and employees, so recklessly and negligently conducted itself in and about the care, protection and supervision of the plaintiff, that the plaintiff's head, neck, shoulders, back and arms and other parts and members of her body were burned and lacerated and she will be badly scarred permanently;
That the defendant was negligent, because it failed to provide reasonable and proper nursing care for the plaintiff, and because the nurses employed by it for the care and supervision of the plaintiff failed to give sufficient attendance to the needs of the plaintiff, and failed to watch over and guard the plaintiff from harm.
The second count of the complaint charges that the defendant, acting through its servants, agents and employees, undertook and agreed to care for, protect from harm, maintain, supervise and treat the plaintiff in consideration of certain payments to be made to the said defendant, the plaintiff being a paying guest of the said defendant, and that the said defendant, in breach of said agreement, by and through its servants, agents and employees, failed and neglected to care for, protect from harm, maintain, supervise and treat the plaintiff by reason whereof the plaintiff's head, neck, shoulders, back and arms and other parts and members of her body were burned and lacerated and permanently injured.
The defendant made a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Superior Court based on the following grounds:
That the defendant is a non-profit, non-stock, public charitable corporation, organized and existing under the laws of the [46 Del. 353] State of Delaware, supported by appropriations from the State and New Castle County, and by contributions, gifts, endowments and receipts from patients. Its entire assets and enjoyment being directed to the relief of the destitute, sick and needy on a non-sectarian basis;
That the injuries allegedly received by the plaintiff, who was a paying patient, were due to the negligence of a graduate nurse who had been selected and trained with due care under the joint supervision of the defendant, and its administrative medical staff, and who had been duly certified by the Board of Examiners for Registered Nurses for the State of Delaware;
That the alleged injury was received by the plaintiff in the delivery room of the hospital maintained by the defendant, where facilities had been obtained by Dr. Willard Preston, a duly licensed obstetrician of the State of Delaware who had exclusive control and charge of the delivery room and the attendants therein at the time the alleged injury was received; and that the defendant had no control whatsoever over the delivery room or the action of the doctor and the attendants at the time the alleged injury was received;
That the injuries received by the plaintiff, if any, were the result of negligence, if any, on the part of a nurse who had been properly selected and trained and who was under the exclusive command and supervision of a doctor selected by the parents of the patient, and that, consequently, the defendant, a eleemosynary corporation is free from any liability in this cause.
Thomas Herlihy, Jr., Wilmington, for the plaintiff.
Southerland, Berl & Potter and Vincent A. Theisen, Wilmington, for the defendant.
RICHARDS, P. J., sitting.
RICHARDS, President Judge.
In order to pass upon the defendant's motion for summary judgment, it is necessary to consider three questions which are ...