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Portland Section of Council of Jewish Women v. Sisters of Charity of Providence

September 10, 1973

PORTLAND SECTION OF THE COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN, RESPONDENT,
v.
SISTERS OF CHARITY OF PROVIDENCE IN OREGON, APPELLANT



Appeal from Circuit Court, Multnomah County. Alan F. Davis, Judge.

Curtis W. Cutsforth, Portland, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Frank E. Nash, and Miller, Anderson, Nash, Yerke & Wiener, Portland.

Garry L. Kahn, Portland, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Pozzi, Wilson & Atchison, Howard M. Feuerstein, and Davies, Biggs, Strayer, Stoel & Boley, Portland.

Holman, Justice. O'Connell, Chief Justice, and Denecke, Tongue, Howell, and Bryson, Justices.

Holman

Plaintiff is a charitable corporation organized by Jewish women. Defendant is a charitable corporation which operates the St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center and is the successor in interest to the Sisters of Charity of Providence of St. Vincent's Hospital. Plaintiff brought this suit to require defendant to perform a contract allegedly made in 1927 between plaintiff and defendant's predecessor which required the hospital, in return for the payment of $5,000, to furnish ward accommodations and services in perpetuity to one person at a time, such person to be designated by plaintiff. Defendant appeals from the trial court's decree specifically enforcing the agreement.

The first question raised by the appeal is whether there was such a contract with defendant's predecessor. The evidence convinces us there was. No signed contract was found by either party. However, unsigned copies of two contracts were found, one dated February 1927 and the other dated March 16, 1927. The two documents were identical except for some minor matters with which we are not directly concerned. Defendant's records disclose an Annual Account of the Financial Archives, under date of December 31, 1958, which has the following entry:

"Received: $5,000 March 16, 1927, and additional $500.00 April 13, 1945. Obligation in perpetuity

with Council of Jewish Women for maintenance of free ward bed for Jewish patients."

Opposite the entry is the following notation:

"This obligation is faithfully carried out, according to the terms of the agreement."

In addition, defendant's records disclose a journal which lists the names of patients whose charges were written off by St. Vincent's Hospital to the "Jewish Endowed Bed." The first page of the journal is headed,

"Jewish Endowed Bed 3/16/27."

In addition, other correspondence and documentation were adduced tending to show that there was an agreement to give care to Jewish patients designated by plaintiff.

Defendant makes the argument that, even if some sort of an agreement did exist, there is no evidence of the specific terms of the agreement. We conclude, as the trial judge did, that the unsigned agreement of March 16, 1927, contained the terms of the agreement. It is obvious there was some agreement, and we believe it is not a mere coincidence that the date of the last contract, the date of the payment of the money, and the date at which defendant commenced its journal covering the patients whose charges were written off to the "Jewish Endowed Bed" are the same.

Defendant contends the statute of frauds prevents the agreement from being enforced because there was no writing signed by its predecessor. The payment of the full consideration by plaintiff and the money's ...


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