The Richmond Register

March 16, 2013

The Case of the Grounded High Flyer

You be the judge

By Jack Strauss
Register Columnist

BEREA — Freddy, who had a great passion for the ladies, was so sick when he entered a hospital that he couldn’t even take a turn for the nurse. With the marvels of medicine, however, he was soon raring to get back into circulation.

The only thing that stopped him, however, was big Bertha, the head nurse in the hospital, and it wasn’t because of his good looks either.

It was because Freddy had no money with which to pay his hospital bill and Big Bertha blocked his path to freedom until his bill was paid.

By the time a friend arrived to bail out Freddy, Freddy was practically ready for a relapse. Instead, he took two aspirins and sued the hospital for false imprisonment.

“Not only was I kept in the hospital against my will,” Freddy complained in court, “Big Bertha kept pecking at me with her bill.”

“She was only doing her job,” insisted the attorney for the hospital. “When an individual gets sick, he’s willing to part with his entire fortune to be cured. If there is one thing harder than paying bills it is collecting them. Therefore, we have the very reasonable and necessary rule that no patient leaves the hospital without first paying his tab. Otherwise, hospitals would go broke and cease to exist.”

IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE, would you make the hospital pay for grounding high-flying Freddy?

THIS IS HOW THE JUDGE RULED: YES! The judge held that because a patient fails to pay his bill is no excuse for detaining him against his will.

(Based upon a 1925 Alabama Supreme Court Decision)

Jack Strauss, a retired New York City trial attorney who now resides in Berea, wrote a syndicated column for 36 years called, “What’s the Law?” It appeared in papers coast to coast, including the Pittsburgh Press, the Los Angeles Examiner, the Hartford Times, the Kansas City Star and the Philadelphia Daily News, among many others. It appears here with his permission.