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Rosenthal v. Warren

475 F.2d 438 (1973)

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Rosenthal v. Warren

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

475 F.2d 438 (1973)

Facts

Dr. Martin C. Rosenthal, a New York resident, died after a surgery performed by Dr. Warren (defendant) at New England Baptist Hospital (hospital) (defendant), a Massachusetts corporation. Dr. Warren was a world-renowned surgeon who treated patients from around the world. Approximately one-third of the hospital’s patients were from outside of Massachusetts, and in the year of Dr. Rosenthal’s death, 9 percent of the hospital’s patients were New York residents. The hospital also solicited and received donations worldwide. Mrs. Rosenthal (plaintiff), a New York resident, filed a malpractice claim in New York state court against Dr. Warren and the hospital for malpractice, and she requested $1.25 million in damages. The lawsuit was removed to federal district court. Dr. Warren and the hospital argued that Massachusetts law should be applied to Mrs. Rosenthal’s claim. Massachusetts law imposed both minimum and maximum damages limits in wrongful-death cases and assessed damages in proportion to the tortfeasor’s culpability. The maximum allowable recovery was $50,000. The district court held that New York law, which allowed unlimited damages, applied. The court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Mrs. Rosenthal on this issue, and Dr. Warren and the hospital appealed. In support of their appeal, Dr. Warren and the hospital argued that Massachusetts law should apply because both the surgery and the death occurred in Massachusetts and because the parties intended for Massachusetts law to apply in the event of a malpractice claim.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Oakes, J.)

Dissent (Lumbard, J.)

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