American Journal of Law & Medicine

Hospitals: court rejects charitable immunity defense and holds hospital liable - Keene v. Brigham & Women's Hosp., Inc.

Hospitals: Court Rejects Charitable Immunity Defense and Holds Hospital Liable --Keene v. Brigham & Women's Hosp., Inc.(1)--The Superior Court of Massachusetts awarded an estimated $6.5 million to the family of a boy who suffered from brain damage shortly after he was born. Petitioners, parents of Dylan Keene, alleged that as a result of the hospital's negligence, their son has been permanently brain damaged since his birth.

Prior to 1940, most hospitals were protected either by charitable or governmental immunity. The doctrine of charitable immunity protected hospitals from the acts of its employees by limiting the amount of damages to a minimal amount. However, the trend over the past few decades has been to abolish charitable immunity.(2)

Dylan Keene showed respiratory distress shortly after he was born. By twenty-four hours of age, Dylan was in septic shock and by twenty-six hours of age, he began having seizures. …

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