Digest Author: Dodot

Strunk v. Strunk (1969) Petition: Appeal [heard by CA of Kentucky] Appellant: Jerry Strunk, an incompetent by and through Morris E. Burton His Guardian Ad Litem Appellee: Ava Strunk, Committee for Jerry Strunk, Incompetent, et al. Ponente: Date: 26 September 1969 Facts:  

enough not only to cover property but also all matters on the well-being of the child. T he right to act for the incompetent in all cases has become recognized in this country as the doctrine of substituted judgment and is broad enough not only to cover property but also to cover all matters touching on the well-being of the ward. The doctrine has been recognized in American courts since 1844.
NOTE: A bit confusing, since the CA seems to suggest that neither the committee nor the county court had enough power to permit the procedure in question [renal transplant]. YET, they go on to say that the procedure should be allowed.  “Review of American case law shows

Tommy needs a kidney transplant because he’s suffering from chronic glomerulus nephritis, his brother Jerry is a perfect match. [Note: Doctors had also tried the parents for possible matches, as well as other relatives.] However, Jerry is mentally incapacitated - has the mindset of a 6-year old. [Down’s Syndrome] o That being said, it has been shown that Jerry is aware of the potentially crucial role he may play in his brother’s life According to the Department of Mental Health, the loss of his brother, Jerry will suffer more as compared to the suffering he has to go through in losing a kidney.
Jerry is very close to his brother [his only living sibling] o If parents die, and Tommy does as well – no intimate communication “so necessary to his stability and optimal functioning.” Availability of other means? o But likely, Tommy will not survive several cadaver transplants Besides, renal transplants are not very risky for donors o Body has two functioning kidneys o Operation very common, but rarely reported cases of complications endangering the life of a donor worldwide o

that the power given to a committee would not extend so far as to allow a committee to subject his ward to the serious surgical techniques here under consideration unless the life of his ward be in jeopardy. Nor do we believe the powers delegated to the county court by virtue of the above statutes would reach so far as to permit the procedure which we are dealing with here.  We are op the opinion that a chancery court DOES have sufficient inherent power to authorize the operation  Circuit court findings: operative procedure in this instance are to the best interest of Jerry Strunk

Throughout the legal proceedings, Jerry has been represented by a guardian ad litem, who has continually questioned the power of the state to authorize the removal of an organ from the body of an incompetent who is a ward of the state.

Disposition: Judgment appealed from AFFIRMED. Principles: Parents v. Children

Pertinent laws/provisions/concepts: NOTE: in US, in particular in Kentucky, substantial powers have been delegated to committees of persons of unsound minds, and to county courts in their supervision. Issues: 1.

Should the Court of Appeals approve the proposed operation? [YES]

Ruling/Ratio: 1. YES. 

The right to act for the incompetent has been recognized in the US as the doctrine for substituted judgment and is broad

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