of the board shall determine to be just and reasonable, under all the circumstances. (R.S. Sec. 4849; July 1, 1916, 39 Stat. 309, ch. 209, Sec. 1.)'
Although the Commission on Mental Health and the court in administering Sec. 21-318 have followed the policy prescribed in Sec. 21-319 and have given consideration to the need of an insane person's dependents in determining what amount shall be paid out of his estate on account of his care, it is the view of this court that Sec. 21-319 was repealed by the enactment of the 1939 Act, which provided in terms for repeal of inconsistent statutes. In enacting Sec. 21-318, the Congress specifically prescribed the method of ordering payments to the District by the committee and other persons on account of an insane person's care at Saint Elizabeths, and omitted any reference to allowing support for the patient's dependents.
Although the Court of Appeals in Hart v. Commissioners, 81 U.S.App.D.C. 154, 155 F.2d 877, refers to the 'primary obligation' of a living insane person's estate for the support of his wife and minor children, that case did not involve the question of the liability of a deceased patient's estate. It may be pointed out, further, that the opinion shows that the order allowing support to the wife was signed in 1910, when Sec. 21-319 was in effect, and that the necessity for support of dependents ceased some time prior to 1940.
The court concludes from a study of the applicable statutes that payments by the committee during the lifetime of an insane person on account of the cost of his care do not affect the continuing obligation of the patient's estate for the total cost of his care; that the estate of a deceased insane person is liable for any portion of the cost of his care for which the District has not been reimbursed; that in rendering judgment for the unpaid balance the court has no more authority to consider the need of the deceased patient's dependents for support than in the case of any other debt of the deceased person.
Although it is unnecessary to determination of the case at bar, it is this court's view that authority no longer exists for allowing support to dependents in fixing the amount of payments to the District on account of the cost of the care of an insane person out of his estate during his lifetime.
While it may have been the legislative intent to preserve the policy of Sec. 21-319 of scaling payments to the District with due consideration to the patient's liability for the support of his dependents during his lifetime, one would have to go beyond the bounds of permissible judicial construction to determine, that the 1939 Act did in fact preserve such authority.
The court is conscious that the conclusions here reached, both as to the District's right to reimbursement out of a deceased insane person's estate without regard to any need of his family for support, are harsh and undesirable, and may result in hardship to the patient's family without any net benefit to the District of Columbia.
It should be pointed out, however, that, even had the court held that authority exists to consider the needs of a patient's dependents in determining what amount the District of Columbia shall recover from a deceased patient's estate, the facts in the present case would warrant a judgment for the District of Columbia in the full amount claimed.
The financial condition of the decedent's widow, his only surviving dependent, has been stipulated by counsel. She owns her home, which was purchased in 1946 for $ 7,500 and is assessed at $ 6,625, and also certain shares of stock in various companies. She owns and operates an herb medicine business formerly owned and operated by her deceased father. The actual value of the business is not known, but the income has steadily decreased since she inherited the business in 1944. In 1951 she received an income of $ 1,338.64 consisting of widow's annuity of $ 506.64 under the Civil Service Retirement Act, (5 U.S.C.A. § 691 et seq.), rental of one room in the amount of $ 360, income from her business $ 300, and dividends of $ 172 on the stock owned by her. In addition, she was beneficiary of approximately two-thirds of the decedent's life insurance, the total amount of which was $ 10,563.78, making her share about $ 7,040.
It is further stipulated that the widow is now sixty-seven years of age and has a life expectancy of 10.48 years.
The 1951 income from the stocks held by decedent's estate was $ 775.
If the total claim of the District of Columbia, $ 4,955.13, is paid out of the decedent's net estate of $ 17,245.51, the widow will receive a balance of $ 12,290.38.
From the foregoing, it appears that the widow's own financial condition, the amount of decedent's estate, and the widow's life expectancy are such as to warrant a finding that the widow would have adequate funds for her support remaining after payment of the entire amount due the District of columbia. It is not unreasonable that a person of the widow's age draw on the corpus of her estate, if need there be.
Counsel will present an order granting the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.
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