Climate Change Project

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Historic Public Health Documents

Historic Public Health and Communicable Disease Cases

Public health law dates back to the earliest colonial times in the United States.  The Center for Public Health Law is beginning a project to identify historic cases and provide a brief discussion of each case.  These will include public health cases and private law cases involving communicable diseases.  This will help historians and others interested in the history of public health and communicable disease law to find the primary legal materials.  These pages will be reorganized as more briefs are added so book mark this page rather than individual briefs.  At this point, cases will be added as they are briefed, with the newest briefs at the top of the list. 

O'Brien v. Cunard S.S. Co., Ltd., 154 Mass. 272, 28 N.E. 266 (Mass. Sep 01, 1891) - Passenger on steamship stood in line and allowed physician to give her a smallpox vaccination. Court rejected her battery claim and found that by accepting the vaccination without complaint, she gave the surgeon permission to vaccinate her.

Jacobson v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905) (classic public health police power case involving the right of the state to require smallpox vaccination)

First case we can find disciplining a physician for not reporting a communicable disease: Ohio v. Chandler, 8 Ohio Dec. Reprint 322 (1882).

County is liable for expenses of supplies provided to persons in home quarantine for smallpox - County of Saguache v. Decker, 10 Colo. 149, 14 P. 123 (Colo. 1887)

Is a smallpox quarantine false imprisonment? - Crayton v. Larabee, 110 N. Rep. 355, 220 N.Y. 493 (N.Y. Ct. of App. 1917)

Was the health department given the authority to exclude unvaccinated childern from school? - Burroughs v. Mortenson, 143 N.E. 457 (Ill. 1924)

When is the water company liable for typhoid in the water supply? - Buckingham v. Plymouth Water Co., 21 A.Rep. 824 (Penn. 1891)

Basil v. Butterworth Hospital, 262 N.W. 281 (Mich. 1935) (Worker's Compensation, Scarlet Fever, Industrial Accident)

Bang v. Independent School District No. 27, 225 N.W. 449 (Minn. 1929) (Tuberculosis, Negligence, Government Liability)

Bacon v. United States Mut. Acc. Ass'n, 25 N.E.399 (Ct. App. N.Y. 1890) (Anthrax, Insurance, Accidental Death)

Aronson v. City of Everett, 239 P. 1011 (Wash. 1925) (Water, Typhoid Fever, Negligence, Appeal)

Applequist v. Oliver Iron Mining Co., 296 N.W. 13 (Minn. 1941) (Personal Injury, Mining, Adequate Ventilation, Pneumoconiosis, Silicosis)

Bohaker v. Travelers' Insurance Co., 102 N.E. 342 (Mass. 1913) (Insurance, Typhoid Fever, Accidental Death)

Elected offical can be personally liable for seizing property without proper authority - Boom v. City of Utica, 2 Barb. 104, 1848 WL 4861 (N.Y.Sup.Gen.Term, 1848)

Ames v. Lake Independence Lumber Co., 197 N.W. 499 (Mich. 1924) (Typhoid Fever, Water, Worker's Compensation, Injury on the Job)

Wiltfong v. Lake Independence Lumber Co., 197 N.W. 502 (Mich. 1924) (Typhoid Fever, Water, Worker's Compensation, Injury on the Job)

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)


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