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04/06/76 GAFFIER v. ST. JOHNS HOSPITAL

April 6, 1976

GAFFIER
v.
ST. JOHNS HOSPITAL



Appeal from Wayne, Thomas J. Brennan, J.

Bashara, P. J., and N. J. Kaufman and D. F. Walsh, JJ.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Costs -- Court Rules -- Indigents -- Security Bonds.

The prohibitions of one court rule against the assessment of certain fees and costs with respect to indigents refers to court costs and fees that must be paid by litigants to the court; they do not apply to the security bonds for the security of a litigant covered by another court rule (GCR 1963, 109, GCR 1963, 120).

2. Costs -- Security Bonds -- Substantial Reasons -- Indigents -- Court Rules.

A motion to require a plaintiff to post a security bond to cover a defendant's costs, should they be awarded, should only be granted on the movant's showing of substantial reason; a bond should not be required simply because the plaintiff is poor (GCR 1963, 109).

3. Costs -- Security Bonds -- Waiver -- Meritorious Claims.

There is a strong preference established by court rules for waiver of a security bond for costs which may be awarded where an indigent plaintiff's pleadings show a meritorious claim or a legitimate cause of action (GCR 1963, 109).

4. Costs -- Security Bonds -- Waiver -- Pleading -- Explanation of Hardship -- Appeal and Error -- Court Rules.

It is an abuse of a trial court's discretion to fail to waive a security bond in an action where an indigent plaintiff has pleaded a legitimate cause of action and the defendant's motion for the bond gives no explanation of the necessity for any particular sum, nor indicates any particular hardship that will result if the bond should be denied (GCR 1963, 109).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kaufman

Complaint by Rose Gaffier against St. Johns Hospital, William H. Salot, Veeradhadra R. Aluri, Dr. L. Reynolds Associates, P.C., David E. Bryer, and Julian B. Alvarez-Calderon seeking damages for medical malpractice. Defendant hospital moved to require the plaintiff to post a security bond for costs. Motion granted. Plaintiff appeals by leave granted.

We are asked to determine when, if ever, an indigent plaintiff may be ordered to post a security bond for costs under GCR 1963, 109.

Plaintiff, an elderly woman whose sole income is a monthly social security check of $197, brought a six million dollar malpractice suit in Wayne County Circuit Court against defendant hospital and five doctors. Defendant hospital requested the court to order plaintiff to post a Rule 109 surety bond in an amount sufficient to cover all costs which might be awarded defendant hospital in the event it successfully defended the lawsuit. The trial court ordered plaintiff to file a surety bond of $2,500 with the court clerk. Plaintiff, through her attorneys, brings this ...


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