JCCC Honors Journal


This paper examines the powerful and long lasting influence in the United States of the doctrine of charitable immunity which exempted charitable organizations from civil litigation as the result of the negligent acts of its agents. Having exempted hospitals from liability, the courts subsequently applied respondeat superior to staff working under the direction of physicians The paper further examines the targeting of physicians as "deep pockets" through the creation of a number of legal fictions which include the captain of the ship and vicarious liability. The repudiation of the doctrine of charitable immunity and ascension of the doctrine of corporate liability shifted the deep pockets target of malpractice litigation from physicians to hospitals. Disclosure of adverse events is examined and settlement of malpractice suits out of court is discussed. The paper concludes with a discussion of disclosure of adverse events and expresses hope for the future of the end of the adversarial nature of resolution with the advent of programs such as Disclosure, Apology, and Offer (DA&O).