Garratt v. Dailey

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Garratt v. Dailey, 46 Wash. 2d 197, 279 P.2d 1091 (Wash. 1955) and 49 Wash. 2d 499, 304 P.2d 681 (Wash. 1956) This case is used in Law School (1L) to help shape the definition and understanding of intent.[1][2][3]

Courts[edit]

Supreme Court of Washington (SC Wash), Lower Court (LC)

Justices[edit]

Hill, Schwellenbach, Donworth, Weaver, Finley, Foster

Principals[edit]

  • Defendant (Δ) - Brian Dailey (tortfeasor), 5yo, male
  • Plaintiff (Π) - Ruth Garratt (fall victim), adult, female

Student Brief[edit]

Student briefs are an important tool for legal education. The potential styles (and content) for student briefs are as numerous as there are students and professors. A variety of Garratt v. Dailey briefs can be found in the external links (infra).

Summary (Σ)[edit]

Intent for civil (tortious) battery is satisfied when tortfeasor has knowledge that his acts will result in harmful or offensive consequence (e.g. touching/contact) with substantial certainty.

Confidence Wording Issue Spotter
Certain "will result" tortious battery
Certain "would result" tortious battery
Either "should result" consider tortious battery first, then tortious negligence
Either "could result" consider tortious negligence first, then tortious battery
Uncertain "may result" tortious negligence
Uncertain "might result" tortious negligence

Facts[edit]

Π contends that Δ moved a lawn chair that Δ believed Π would sit upon. Expecting a chair to sit upon, Π fell and sustained injury.

Δ contends that he moved a lawn chair sideways a few feet upon which to sit. "At which time," he discovered Π about to sit where the chair formerly was located. "At which time," he hurried to move the chair back to aid Π in sitting down but was unable to do so. Π fell, contacted the ground, and sustained a hip fracture.

Π brings action against Δ for an alleged battery.

Procedural Roadmap (φ)[edit]

  1. LC rejects Π testimony; dismisses case (finds for Δ).
  2. Justice Hill for the SC Wash remands for clarification.
  3. LC finds knowledge with substantial certainty in Δ; enters judgment for Π.
  4. SC of Wash affirms on second appeal.

Issues[edit]

  • What is a child's liability for an alleged battery?[1]
  • What constitutes a determination of intent?[2]

Decisions[edit]

Witness testimony for Π was not accepted—failing to prove that Δ moved the chair while she was in the act of sitting down.

  • Acknowledged - The fractured hip and other serious/painful injuries Π sustained were the result of a fall.
  • Acknowledged - Potential damages rated at $11,000.

Δ did not have purpose, intent or design to perform a prank or to effect an assault and battery upon the person of the plaintiff.

Rule (Ψ)[edit]

  • When a youth commits an act with force, she is liable to be proceeded against, regardless of age.[1]
  • A definition of a battery is the intentional infliction of a harmful bodily contact upon another.[3]
  • According to §13 Restatement of Torts, in order that an act may be done with intention (of bringing harmful or offensive contact or the apprehension thereof), the act must be done for purpose or with acting knowledge that contact or apprehension is substantially certain.

Holding[edit]

REMAND

  • No finding of error to warrant a new trial.
  • No merit in Π assertion directing a judgment for $11,000.
  • While experience, capacity, and understanding are material, no significance is attached to age.

SC Wash, noting that a new trial was unnecessary,[1] remanded the cause back to the LC for clarification, directing discovery of definite findings on the issue of Δ knowledge.[2] On remand, the LC found Δ had knowledge and satisfied the substantial certainty test; finding for the Π -- affirmed on second appeal by SC Wash.

Rationale[edit]

The absence of an intent to injure or play a joke is not sufficient to absolve the accused of liability. It is necessary for the plaintiff only to prove that the accused had sufficient knowledge to foresee the contact with "substantial certainty".

Impact[edit]

Restatement (Second) of Torts [RST] says of intention, "to denote that the actor desires to cause consequences of his act, or that he believes that the consequences are substantially certain to result from it." RST §8A[4]

Restatement (Third) of Torts [RTT] covers both knowledge and intention, "A person acts with the intent to produce a consequence if: (a) the person acts with the purpose of producing that consequence; or (b) the person acts knowing that the consequence is substantially certain to result. RTT:LPH §1[5]

DETAILS[edit]

First Appeal[edit]

Forward reference [46 Wn.2d 197, RUTH GARRATT, Appellant, v. BRIAN DAILEY, a Minor, by George S. Dailey, his Guardian ad Litem, Respondent] for the following:

  1. INFANTS - TORTS - LIABILITY - GENERAL RULE. As a general rule, when a minor has committed a tort with force, he is liable to be proceeded against as any other person would be.
  2. ASSAULT AND BATTERY - BATTERY - DEFINITION. As a general rule, a battery is the intentional infliction of a harmful bodily contact upon another; and in order that any act may be done with the intention of bringing about a harmful contact or an apprehension thereof to a particular person, the act must be done for the purpose of causing the contact or apprehension or with knowledge on the part of the actor that it is substantially certain to be produced.
  3. SAME - BATTERY - INTENT AND KNOWLEDGE. In an action against a five-year-old boy for personal injuries sustained when the plaintiff attempted to sit down in a chair which the boy had moved, the mere absence of any intent to injure the plaintiff or to play a prank on her or to embarrass her, would not absolve him from liability if in fact the boy, when he moved the chair, knew with substantial certainty that the plaintiff would attempt to sit down where the chair had been.
  4. APPEAL AND ERROR - DISPOSITION OF CAUSE - REMAND WITHOUT DECISION - CLARIFICATION OF FINDINGS. In an action against a fiveyear-old boy for personal injuries sustained when the plaintiff attempted to sit down in a chair which the boy had moved, in which the trial court found that when the boy moved the chair he did not have any wilful or unlawful purpose in doing so or any intent to injure the plaintiff or to bring about any unauthorized or offensive contact with her person, the case should be remanded for clarification of the findings to specifically cover the question of whether the boy, when he moved the chair, knew with substantial certainty that the plaintiff would attempt to sit down where the chair had been, because intent could be inferred from such knowledge.
  5. INFANTS - TORTS - LIABILITY - LAW APPLICABLE. In an action against a five-year-old boy for personal injuries sustained when the plaintiff attempted to sit down in a chair which the boy had moved, the law of battery applicable to adults applies; and the only circumstance where the boy's age is of any consequence is in determining what he knew, and there his experience, capacity, and understanding are material.
  6. APPEAL AND ERROR - REVIEW - HARMLESS ERROR - EXCLUSION OF EVIDENCE - FACTS OTHERWISE ESTABLISHED. A restriction upon the cross-examination of a defendant was not prejudicial, where the fact that the plaintiff was seeking to develop came into the record through another question.
  7. INFANTS - TORTS - LIABILITY - EXISTENCE OF ESTATE. The liability of an infant for his tort does not depend upon the size of his estate or even upon the existence of one; hence, in an action in tort against an infant, the trial court properly refused to admit as an exhibit a policy of liability insurance as evidence that there was a source from which a judgment might be satisfied.
  8. NEW TRIAL - NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE - CASE TRIED TO COURT. In a case tried to the court, the trial judge is in a position to know whether newly discovered evidence would change the result on a new trial; and held that such evidence was not of a character that would make the denial of a motion for new trial an abuse of discretion.
  9. APPEAL AND ERROR - REVIEW - HARMLESS ERROR - INTERLOCUTORY PROCEEDINGS - DISCOVERY. The refusal of the trial court to permit the plaintiff to take a pretrial deposition of the defendant held not to constitute prejudicial error.

Appeal from a judgment of the superior court for Pierce county, No. 117534, Hale, J., entered November 20, 1953, upon findings in favor of the defendant, in an action for assault and battery, tried to the court. Remanded. SCHWELLENBACH, DONWORTH, and WEAVER, JJ., concur.

  • Kennett, McCutcheon & Soderland and James P. Healy, for appellant.
  • Frederick J. Orth and Rode, Cook, Watkins & Orth, for respondent.

Second Appeal[edit]

Provided to complete the "story." Forward reference [49 Wn.2d 499, RUTH GARRATT, Respondent, v. BRIAN DAILEY, a Minor, by George S. Dailey, his Guardian ad Litem, Appellant] for the following:

  1. APPEAL AND ERROR - DISPOSITION OF CAUSE - PROCEEDINGS AFTER REMAND - PROCEEDINGS CONTRARY TO MANDATE OF SUPREME COURT. If the superior court proceeds contrary to the mandate of the supreme court, it interferes with the supreme court's jurisdiction, and the proper procedure for the aggrieved party to pursue is to apply to the supreme court for an appropriate writ requiring the superior court to conform to the mandate; and if he fails to take such action, he is foreclosed from objecting to the judgment on this ground.
  2. ASSAULT AND BATTERY - INFANTS - BATTERY - INTENT AND KNOWLEDGE - EVIDENCE - SUFFICIENCY. In an action against a five-year-old boy for personal injuries sustained when the plaintiff attempted to sit down in a chair which the boy had moved, held that the evidence sustains the finding of the trial court that, when the boy removed the chair, he knew with substantial certainty that the plaintiff would attempt to sit in the place where the chair had been; and such knowledge is sufficient to charge the boy with intent to commit a battery.

Appeal from a judgment of the superior court for Pierce county, No. 117534, Hale, J., entered November 29, 1955, upon findings in favor of the plaintiff, in an action for assault and battery, tried to the court. Affirmed. DONWORTH, C.J., HILL, FINLEY, and FOSTER, JJ., concur.

  • Rode, Cook, Watkins & Orth and William R. Thomas, for appellant.
  • Kennett, McCutcheon & Soderland and James P. Healy, for respondent.

See also[edit]

  • Dougherty v. Stepp; willful entry, unfounded claim
  • Ellis v. D'Angelo (Cal. App. 1953); infant battery, negligence, parental liability
  • Lambertson v. U.S. (2NDCir. 1976); battery or negligence
  • McGuire v. Almy (Mass. 1937); insane person liability
  • Ranson v. Kitner (Ill.App. 1889); killed a dog, thinking it a wolf
  • Spivy v. Battaglia (Fla. 1972); negligence or battery
  • Talmage v. Smith (Mich. 1894); transferred intent
  • Vosburg v. Putney (Wis. 1891)
  • Wallace v. Rosen (Ind. App. 2003); reasonable person, substantial certainty, unavoidable contact
  • White v. Muniz (P.2d 2000); mentally deficient liability

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Schwartz, Victor E., Kathryn , Kelly; Partlett, David F. (2010), Prosser, Wade, and Schwartz's Torts: Cases and Materials (12th ed.), Foundation Press, ISBN 9781599417042 
  2. ^ a b c Dobbs, Dan B., Paul T. Hayden; Bublick, Ellen M. (2009), Torts and Compensation: Personal Accountability and Social Responsibility for Injury (6th ed.), West Group, ISBN 9780314184900 
  3. ^ a b Epstein, Richard Allen (2008), Cases and Materials on Torts (9th ed.), Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen, ISBN 9780735569232 
  4. ^ Bublick, Ellen M., Abraham, Kenneth S. (2010), A Concise Restatement of Torts (2nd ed.), St. Paul, MN: American Law Institute, ISBN 9780314932204 
  5. ^ Green, Michael D., Powers, William C. Jr. (2009), Restatement Third, Torts: Liability for Physical and Emotional Harm 1, S.I.: American Law Institute 

External links[edit]

As with the student brief (supra), the following briefs should be considered synthesis/derivative material from primary and secondary sources (for educational purposes). These links are provided to display a sample the variety of briefing styles and perspectives. This list is neither complete nor authoritative. In no particular order: