CE, Sect., 20 juin 1997, p. 253 Case Theux
20 June 1997
Translated by:
Tony Weir
Professor B. S. Markesinis

20 June 1997

Conseil d’Etat

Considering the request, lodged on 20 July 1992… on behalf of M. Jean-Marc Theux of “Maison-Augé”, Urgons (40320), that the Conseil d’Etat annul the decision of 16 July 1991 whereby the administrative appeal court of Bordeaux dismissed his appeal from the decision of 26 June 1989 by which the administrative tribunal of Toulouse has dismissed his claim for damages against the regional hospital centre of Toulouse in respect of the harm he suffered after an accident on 23 May 1986;…

Considering that it emerges from the dossier submitted to the first instance judge that M. Theux imputes the harm suffered after the accident on 23 May 1986 to the malfunctioning of the emergency medical services (SAMU) of the regional hospital centre of Toulouse and claims that it should pay him damages therefore;

Considering that since a hospital is answerable for any fault in the organisation or operation of its emergency services, it follows that in dismissing the claim of M. Theux on the ground that the hospital was not guilty of any gross negligence (faute lourde), the administrative court of appeal has misunderstood the law relevant to the liability of public bodies; that on this ground, therefore, M. Theux is entitled to call for the annulment of its decision; …

Considering that it emerges from the judge’s report that at 8.50 p.m. on 23 May 1986 M. Theux suffered a serious neck injury during a rugby training session at Masseube (Gers); that the firemen who arrived on the scene at 9.01 p.m. called the SAMU of the hospital at Auch which had an ambulance arrive twelve minutes later and also the SAMU of the central hospital of Toulouse asking for a helicopter to collect the patient, that the helicopter took off at 9.20 pm but turned back five minutes later by reason of poor visibility, by which time the resuscitator on board the helicopter had informed the operator at SAMU that collection by helicopter was impossible; that the patient, having been made ready, was then driven to the hospital at Auch and then to the hospital at Rangueil in Toulouse where he was operated on at 2.30 a.m. on 24 May;

Considering that in view of the weather conditions and the poor visibility at 9.25 p.m. on the day of the accident the decision not to try to evacuate the patient by helicopter did not constitute a fault such as to render the hospital centre liable; that the fact that M. Theux was not operated on until 2.30 a.m. was due not to the few minutes delay before the Toulouse SAMU informed the firemen at Masseube that evacuation by helicopter was impossible but to the difficulty of transporting by road a patient with such serious injuries;

Considering that it follows that since the regional hospital centre was not in any way at fault, and that there is no need to order the requested expert’s report, M. Theux’s complaint against the dismissal of his claim by the administrative tribunal of Toulouse on 26 June 1989 is unfounded;


Article 1: The decision of the administrative court of appeal of Bordeaux dated 16 July 1991 is annulled…

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