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HOPKINS v. BLANCO ET AL. (05/22/74)

decided: May 22, 1974.

HOPKINS
v.
BLANCO ET AL., APPELLANTS



Appeal from order of Superior Court, Oct. T., 1972, No. 284, reversing order of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Oct. T., 1971, No. 2083, in case of Lorraine Hopkins v. Gumersindo Blanco, M.D., and Alberto Adam, M.D. and Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital.

COUNSEL

Francis E. Shields, with him David R. Scott, John J. Dautrich, Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz and White and Williams, for appellants.

James E. Beasley and Keith S. Erbstein, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Chief Justice Jones concurs in the result.

Author: Eagen

[ 457 Pa. Page 91]

The sole issue presented by this appeal is whether a wife may recover damages in Pennsylvania for the loss of her husband's consortium. The background of the case is this.

John B. Hopkins was a patient in the Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia*fn1 under the care of Dr. Gumersindo Blanco and Dr. Alberto Adam. Subsequently, Hopkins instituted an action against these physicians and the hospital for damages, alleging that due to the negligence of the physicians and the hospital he suffered bladder and bowel incontinence, paraplegia, and malfunction of his sexual organs.

At or about the same time, Lorraine Hopkins, wife of the said John B. Hopkins, instituted a separate action on her own behalf against the same parties seeking damages for the loss of her husband's consortium. The defendants, Blanco and Adam, filed preliminary objections to the complaint in the nature of a demurrer which the trial court sustained and then dismissed the complaint. On appeal, the Superior Court reversed this order and remanded the action for trial in consolidation

[ 457 Pa. Page 92]

    with the action of John B. Hopkins, the husband. See 224 Pa. Superior Ct. 116, 302 A.2d 855 (1973). We granted allocatur and now affirm the order of the Superior Court.

The trial court relying on Brown v. Glenside Lumber & Coal Company, 429 Pa. 601, 240 A.2d 822 (1968), and Neuberg v. Bobowicz, 401 Pa. 146, 162 A.2d 662 (1960), ruled that a wife may not recover in Pennsylvania for the loss of her husband's consortium. The Superior Court in reversing this ruling reasoned that since a husband has a viable right to recover for the loss of his wife's consortium in Pennsylvania, then Art. 1, ยง 27, of the Pennsylvania Constitution, adopted May 18, 1971, mandates the wife now receive a similar right.

In Neuberg v. Bobowicz, supra, this Court examined the question of the wife's right to recover for the loss of her husband's consortium and decided such recovery should not be permitted. We based our conclusion in great part on the fact that the husband's right to recover for such a loss has its foundation in the common law concept that the wife was his property and he had an interest in her services, and that this view has survived as an anomaly since the common law concept of a "wife" is no longer valid. Hence, the Court concluded the right should not be extended.

Lorraine Hopkins argues, however, as she did in the Superior Court, that with the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, if the husband is allowed to recover for the loss of consortium, to fulfill the mandate of the Constitution, ...


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