Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Coyne v. Campbell case brief

Coyne v. Campbell case brief summary
183 N.E.2d 891 (1962)

Plaintiff accident victim sought review of an order of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Fourth Judicial Department (New York) affirming the supreme court's judgment in his favor, in the accident's victim's negligence action against defendant tortfeasor, following the supreme court's determination that the accident victim could not recover the value of medical expenses that were gratuitously rendered to him.

The accident victim was injured when his car collided with a vehicle driven by the tortfeasor. At trial, the supreme court ruled that the accident victim, who was a physician, could not recover the value of the medical treatment that his colleagues provided him, free of charge to him, immediately after the accident.


  • The court ruled that the supreme court properly ruled that the accident victim's special damages could not include the value of the free medical treatment. 
  • Applying a prior decision, the court ruled that an injured party could only recover so much of medical expenses as he was bound to pay. 
  • In so ruling, the court noted that it was for the legislature, and not the courts, to change this accepted rule regarding special damages. 
  • Moreover, the court rejected the accident victim's argument that the medical services were supported by consideration because the accident victim was under a moral obligation to offer similar services should his treating colleagues require them in the future. 
  • The court held that a moral obligation could not establish an injury for which tort damages were proper.

The court affirmed the appellate division's order affirming the supreme court's judgment.

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