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The Impact of Changes in Judicial Doctrine: The Abrogation of Charitable Immunity

Bradley C. Canon and Dean Jaros
Law & Society Review
Vol. 13, No. 4 (Summer, 1979), pp. 969-986
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3053152
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3053152
Page Count: 18
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The Impact of Changes in Judicial Doctrine: The Abrogation of Charitable Immunity
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Abstract

Common law doctrines may have as significant an impact on everyday life as those of the U.S. Supreme Court. This paper focuses on the abrogation of the doctrine of charitable immunity, which has occurred in 32 states since World War II. We investigate the impact of this change on average hospital room rate charges in each state. Both static and dynamic analyses are conducted. In both we control for economic and inflationary variables by using state per capita income data. Static analysis involves year-by-year comparison of room rate charges in abrogating states with those in states which retain the doctrine. The results are inconclusive. In dynamic analysis we identify those states which abrogated the doctrine and note changes in their average room rates at periods two, four, and six years subsequent to the abrogations. We also identify states which underwent no change in doctrine over the same periods. The amounts of room rate change in the two categories of states are then compared. We had expected the amount to be greater in abrogating states, and in fact this is almost universally the case. This strongly suggests that abrogation of charitable immunity has produced a demonstrable increase in hospital room rate charges.

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