Damage Liability of Charitable Institutions

The question of the liability of charitable institutions to actions for damages presents great difficulties. This is not due how- -ever to a lack of cases. The question has peculiarly “engaged the attention of the bench and bar of the country. The problem has been scrutinized from every conceivable viewpoint. The arguments for and against have well nigh been exhausted, and little, if anything, new remains to be advanced”.’ In their opinions the courts have frequently gone back to certain English cases disregarding the points decided but stressing certain dicta which have been uttered by the judges which decided them. It is curious t6 note that none of these cases was really in point. Dunkan v. Findlader, decided in 1839, involved a claim against the treasurer of a turnpike road which seems to have been a public corporation.2 In Mercy Docks v. Gibbs, decided in 1864, the defendant was a corporation which provided docking facilities and the plaintiff claimed that a cargo of guano had come to grief on account of defendant’s negligence.8 Herriots’ Hospital v. Ross, decided in 1846, involved a claim for damages on the part of an applicant for rejection from the benefit of the charity.4 Though these and other English cases” on their very face did not involve the question in which we are interested they have nevertheless been drawn on extensively and made to support propositions which would have astonished the judges who wrote the opinions. It would waste valuable space to no useful purpose to attempt to trace the use which has been made of these cases by American Courts. They will therefore be passed by hereafter with- ,out any further reference.