Hurley v. Eddingfield

Hurley v. Eddingfield 59 N.E. 1058 (Ind. 1901)
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Appellant George D. Hurley, as administrator, sued Appellee George W. Eddingfield, a licensed and practicing family physician, for $10,000 in damages for wrongfully causing the death of his intestate.

Appellee had been the decedent’s family physician. Decedent became dangerously ill, and requested appellee’s service. A messenger informed appellee of decedent’s severe illness, gave him a fee for his service, informed him that there was in fact no other physician that could be procured in time, and that the decedent was relying on his assistance. Appellee refused without giving any reason. Decedent died shortly thereafter. 

The Court examined whether appellee’s refusal to enter into a contract of employment with the decedent was permissible under the Indiana Medical Law of 1897, which regulates the practice of medicine, sets standards of qualification, and provides licenses to those found qualified.

The Court affirmed the judgment in favor of the appellee and held that his refusal to enter into a contract of employment with the decedent was permissible under the Act of 1897.

The Court reasoned that obtaining the state’s license to practice medicine did not require that the licensee be compelled to practice. The Court interpreted the Act of 1897 as “a preventative, not compulsive, measure.”

“No other physician was procurable in time to be of any use, and decedent did rely on appellee for medical assistance.” Hurley v. Eddingfield, 59 N.E. 1058, 1058 (Ind. 1901)

 

“Death ensued, without decedent’s fault, and wholly from appellee’s wrongful act.” Hurley v. Eddingfield, 59 N.E. 1058, 1058 (Ind. 1901)

“The act is a preventative, not a compulsive, measure. In obtaining the state’s license (permission) to practice medicine, the state does not require, and the licensee does not engage, that he will practice at all or on other terms than he may choose to accept. Counsel’s analogies, drawn from the obligations to the public on the part of innkeepers, common carriers, and the like, are beside the mark.” Hurley v. Eddingfield, 59 N.E. 1058, 1058 (Ind. 1901)

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