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Historic Public Health and Communicable Disease Cases

Aldrich v. Charles Beauregard & Sons, Inc., 200 A.2d 14 (N.H. 1964).

(Water supply, Typhoid Fever, Negligence, Assignment, Motion to Dismiss, Settlement Agreements, Restitution for Injuries)

During the fall of 1959, the Defendant, Charles Beauregard & Sons, Inc. (CBS), contracted with the city of Keene to clear trees from land owned by the city. The land where the work was to be done was near the city's water supply. During the work CBS permitted its employees to set up camp on the land that was being cleared. This make-shift camp was not equipped "...with any toilet or other sanitary facilities for the proper disposal of human fecal or other waste matter..." Id. 200 A.2d at 17. One of CBS' employees, who was a carrier of Typhoid Fever, defecated in an open area near the water shed. The infected feces washed into the town water supply causing the plaintiff, Louise Aldrich, and 15 others to contract Typhoid Fever. Ms. Aldrich originally sued the City of Keene for $10,000 for breach of implied warranty of the fitness of the water. Ms. Aldrich and the City settled for the amount of $4,516.83. As part of the settlement Ms. Aldrich signed two agreements in consideration of her settlement. One released the city from further litigation by Ms. Aldrich or her heirs relating to this incident. The first agreement also expressly stated that neither Ms. Aldrich nor the City of Keene considered the settlement as full compensation for the injuries Ms. Aldrich suffered from having Typhoid Fever. It also expressly reserved the right for Ms. Aldrich to pursue further legal action against any other party that might be responsible for her injuries. This agreement also denied any negligence or wrongful action on the part of the City. The second agreement which appointed the City of Keene as legal representative for Ms. Aldrich in any further suits. In the case at hand, CBS moved for dismissal claiming that Ms. Aldrich had received full compensation for her injuries and assigning her rights to sue any other responsible parties to the same entity which she promised not to sue, she had divested herself of the right to further compensation, as any monies the City might be able to recover were unrecoverable by her. The court disagreed and denied CBS' motion to dismiss and remanded the case for further trial.

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