Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Smithers v. St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center case brief

Smithers v. St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center case brief summary
723 N.Y.S.2d 426 (2001)

Plaintiff widow appealed from the judgment of the Supreme Court, New York County (New York) which denied plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, and granted defendants' (hospital, president, and state attorney general) motion to dismiss.


Plaintiff widow filed a claim to enforce the terms of her deceased husband's $ 10 million gift to defendant hospital which was dedicated for the express purpose of setting up a rehabilitation center for alcoholics. The claim followed years of investigations by the state attorney general which discovered that defendant hospital had misappropriated funds to fund other hospital projects. Plaintiff sought an accounting of the funds of the gift, and also sought an injunction preventing defendant from selling the building in which the rehabilitation center was located or alternatively, to prevent disbursement of the funds from the sale. Defendants moved to dismiss, which was granted.


  • On appeal, defendant attorney general, in a reversal of its original position, argued that plaintiff did not have standing to bring the action. 
  • The appellate court found that plaintiff did have standing because N.Y. Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 8-1.1did not designate the attorney general as the exclusive representative of donors of charitable dispositions. 
  • The plaintiff's tangible stake in the matter derived from her status as a preferred beneficiary of the funds. As such, the judgment was reversed.

Plaintiff's motion for an injunction to prevent disbursement of the funds from the sale of the rehabilitation center building was granted; the judgment of the trial court granting defendants' motion to dismiss was reversed; the cause was reinstated.

Suggested Study Aids For Wills, Trusts & Estate Law

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