CASE BRIEF 12.1
Yale Diagnostic Radiology v. Estate of Fountain
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838 A.2d 179 (Conn. 2003)
FACTS: In March, 1996, Harun Fountain was shot in the back of the head at point-blank range bya playmate. As a result of his injuries, including the loss of his right eye, Fountain required extensive lifesaving medical services from a variety of medical services providers, including Yale
Diagnostic Radiology (plaintiff). The expenses at Yale totaled $17,694. Yale billed Vernetta
Turner-Tucker (Tucker), Fountain’s mother, but the bill went unpaid and, in 1999, Yale obtained
a judgment against her. In January, 2001, all of Tucker’s debts were discharged in bankruptcy,
including the Yale judgment.
Tucker filed suit against the boy who had shot Fountain. However, Fountain succumbed to his
injuries, passing away before the case was settled. The settlement on the tort case was placed into
probate court as part of Fountain’s estate. Tucker was the administrator of Fountain’s estate.
When the settlement was deposited, Yale asked the probate court for payment of its $17,694
judgment from the estate.
DECISION BELOW: The Probate Court denied the motion. Yale appealed to the trial court, and
the trial court held for Yale. Tucker and the estate (defendants) appealed.
ISSUE ON APPEAL: Can minors be held liable for necessaries when their parents cannot or refuse
DECISION: . . . we conclude that Connecticut recognizes the doctrine of necessaries. We further
conclude that, pursuant to the doctrine, the defendants are liable for payment to the plaintiff for
the services rendered to Fountain.
When a medical service provider renders necessary medical care to an injured minor, two contracts
arise: the primary contract between the provider and the minor’s parents; and an implied in law
contract between the provider and the minor himself. The primary contract between the provider
and the parents is based on the parents’ duty to pay for their children’s necessary expenses, under
both common law and statute. Such contracts, where not express, may be implied in fact and
generally arise both from the parties’ conduct and their reasonable expectations. The primacy of
this contract means that the provider of necessaries must make all reasonable efforts to collect
from the parents before resorting to the secondary, implied in law contract with the minor.
The present case illustrates the inequity that would arise if no implied in law contract arose between
Fountain and plaintiff. Fountain received, through a settlement with the boy who caused his
injuries, funds that were calculated, at least in part, on the costs of the medical services provided
to him by the plaintiff in the wake of those injuries. This fact further supports a determination of
an implied in law contract under the circumstances of the case.
Tucker had four years to pay the plaintiff’s bill for the services rendered to Fountain. She did not
pay that bill even when the plaintiff pursued a collection action against her. These facts are
sufficient to show that Tucker was unwilling or unable to pay for Fountain’s necessary medical
1. Describe the series of events that led to Yale requesting that the minor pay for the medical
2. What public policy issues and concerns result from this decision?
3. What benefits does the decision provide?
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