Vosburg v. Putney

Facts: Schoolboy (11 years old) and Wimp (14 years old) were sitting in class across the aisle from each other. Schoolboy (11 years old) kicked Wimp (14 years old) in the shin in the classroom. Wimp at first did not feel it (likely story). But then a few minutes later, Wimp felt a sharp pain and cried out loudly. It turned out that Wimp had hurt the same spot on his leg a few days before and his leg was in the process of healing. The medical experts all agreed that Schoolboy’s kick aggravated Wimp’s previous injury. And in what must be the youngest documented case of osteoporosis in human history, Wimp lost the use of his leg (true story) and was likely picked last in gym class forever (just a guess).

Holding: Jury found Schoolboy liable. Schoolboy appealed…annnnnd…he lost again.

Rule: The wrongdoer is liable for all injuries resulting directly from the wrongful act, whether they could or could not have been foreseen by him/her.  (Eggshell skull rule.)  In actions for assault and battery, Plaintiff must show either that the intention was unlawful, or that Defendant is at fault. The wrongdoer is liable for all injuries resulting directly from the wrongful act whether they could or could not have been foreseen by him.

Plaintiff Must Show: (1) a touching; and (2) intent. (The intention was unlawful or that the defendant is at fault. “If the kicking was unlawful, then the intention to kick was unlawful.”)

Key Point: The touching was not part of the order and decorum of the classroom.

Also Note: Court says that kicking would have been acceptable in the playground (cuz, you know, “boys will be boys”), but in the present case, order had been called by the teacher (“STFU and no kicking”).  Under those circumstances, no implied license to do the act complained of existed, and such act was a violation of the order and decorum of the school, and necessarily unlawful.

Related Case: Wagnor v. Utah (2005) – Court held that the only required mental state was the intention to make contact with the plaintiff, not the intention to cause harm.