RESPONDENT: Massachusetts General Hospital
LOCATION: Briarcrest Christian Academy
DOCKET NO.: 82-63
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
CITATION: 463 US 239 (1983)
ARGUED: Feb 28, 1983
DECIDED: Jun 27, 1983
Ira H. Zaleznik - on behalf of Petitioner
Michael Broad - on behalf of Respondent
Facts of the case
Media for City of Revere v. Massachusetts General HospitalAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 28, 1983 in City of Revere v. Massachusetts General Hospital
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 27, 1983 in City of Revere v. Massachusetts General Hospital
Warren E. Burger:
The judgment and the opinion of the court in City of Revere against the Massachusetts General Hospital will be announced by Justice Blackmun.
Harry A. Blackmun:
Well, this case comes to us by way of certiorari to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
A police officer of the City of Revere wounded a suspect who was attempting to flee from the scene of a reported crime.
The police called a private ambulance and the ambulance took him to Massachusetts General Hospital.
When he was eventually released, the hospital sent the city a rather substantial bill for its services.
The city refused to pay and the hospital sued.
The Massachusetts Court held that the city was responsible for the medical services rendered by the hospital to the wounded suspect and did so primarily on Eighth Amendment grounds.
In an opinion filed with the clerk today, we reverse that holding.
We conclude that the Massachusetts Court was in error when it premised city's liabilities squarely on the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
The relevant constitutional provision is not the Eighth Amendment but instead is the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Eighth Amendment scrutiny is appropriate only after the State has secured a formal adjudication of guilt, and here there been no such adjudication.
The Due Process Clause requires the responsible governmental entity to provide medical care to persons who have been injured while being apprehended by the police.
However, so long as a governmental entity ensures that the medical care is in fact provided, the Constitution does not dictate how the cost of that care should be allocated as between a governmental entity and the provider care.
That instead is a matter of state law.
Mr. Justice Rehnquist has filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment and is joined in that opinion by Mr. Justice White.
And Justice Stevens has also filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you Justice Blackmun.