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Terenzio v. Nelson

Decided: October 17, 1969.

JOSEPH V. TERENZIO, AS COMMISSIONER OF HOSPITALS OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
HARVEY NELSON, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



Kilkenny, Labrecque and Leonard. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kilkenny, P.J.A.D.

Kilkenny

Plaintiff Commissioner of Hospitals of the City of New York sued defendant in 1967 in our Law Division to recover the sum of $4338, with interest thereon from May 8, 1963. He claimed entitlement thereto and the right to sue therefor under sections 101 and 104 of the Social Welfare Law, McKinney's Consol. Laws, c. 55, of the State of New York. There were cross-motions by the parties for summary judgment. The Law Division granted defendant's motion and denied plaintiff's. Plaintiff timely appeals from the resulting judgment of November 4, 1968 in favor of defendant.

The parties agreed in the trial court that the facts essential to the determination of the motions were undisputed. They are as follows.

Bessie Nelson, a widow and mother of defendant, the latter being a New Jersey domiciliary, was a patient at three hospitals in the City of New York in 1962 and 1963, at all times as a nonpaying patient. She was in New York Hospital from September 1 to December 16, 1962; in Lenox Hill Hospital from January 29 to March 12, 1963, and in Bellevue Hospital from March 12 to May 8, 1963. New York Hospital and Lenox Hill Hospital were during the periods in issue voluntary nonprofit hospitals. Bellevue Hospital was a hospital maintained by the Department of Hospitals of the City of New York. She is now deceased.

The sum sued for was made up as follows:

Balance paid to New York Hospital by the City of New York $1,482

Paid to Lenox Hill Hospital by the City of New York 1,260

Due for hospitalization while at Bellevue Hospital 1,596

Total $4,338

Bessie Nelson had two other children, namely, Bernard Nelson and Cynthia Picket, residents and citizens of the State of New York. At the time of the pretrial herein, another action in the Civil Court of the City of New York was pending against these two other children. The record before us does not disclose the outcome of that action.

Section 101 of the New York Social Welfare Law, as it existed at the time in issue, established a "Liability of relatives to support," as follows:

1. The husband, wife, father, mother or child of a recipient of public assistance or care or of a person liable to become in need thereof shall, if of sufficient ability, be responsible for the support of such person. Step-parents shall in ...


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