Kossick v. United Fruit Co.

365 U.S. 731 (1961)


P was employed as chief steward on one of the vessels of D. P suffered a thyroid ailment, not attributable to any fault of D, but with respect to which it concededly had a legal duty to provide P with maintenance and cure. D insisted that P undergo treatment at a United States Public Health Service Hospital. P balked at this because of his past experienced with that Hospital. P notified D that he wished to be treated by a private physician who had agreed to take care of him for $350, which amount P insisted would be payable by D in fulfillment of its obligation for maintenance and cure. D made an oral deal with P that if P would enter a Public Health Service Hospital (where he would receive free care) it would assume responsibility for all consequences of improper or inadequate treatment. P now alleges that by reason of the improper treatment received at such hospital, P suffered grievous unwonted bodily injury, for which D, because of its undertaking, is liable to P for damages in the amount of $250,000. The District Court dismissed the complaint, considering that the agreement sued on was void under the New York Statute of Frauds, as it was not evidenced by any writing. After an affirmation by the court of appeals, the Supreme Court granted certiorari.