Vosburg v. Putney

Wisconsin Supreme Court

50 N.W. 403 (Wis. 1891)

In order to recover for assault and battery, the plaintiff must show that either (a) the intent behind the defendant’s actions is unlawful or (b) that the defendant’s conduct itself is unlawful.

Relevant Facts

Vosburg (the plaintiff) and Putney (the defendant) are both students in the same school. While sitting across the aisle from one another, the defendant lightly kicked the plaintiff in the shin. The plaintiff did not feel the kick, but several moments later, the plaintiff experienced extreme pain in the area of the kick which gradually worsened and made him extremely ill over the next few days. Prior to the kick, the plaintiff had suffered an additional injury to the same leg above his knee that was healing. A doctor performed an operation on the plaintiff’s shin and found that his leg was in a diseased state, believing that bacteria entered the plaintiff’s leg from his previous injury above his knee and spread to his shin. The doctor believed the defendant’s kick activated the bacteria and caused it to eat away at the plaintiff’s flesh. As a result, the plaintiff completely lost the use of his leg and brought suit for assault and battery.

The trial court awarded the plaintiff $2,800.00 in damages. The defendant appealed to the appellate court. The appellate court granted a new trial, and the jury found that the defendant did not intend to harm the plaintiff by kicking him. Accordingly, the trial court reduced the damages to $2,500.00. The defendant appealed.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

December 13, 2020

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Procedural History

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Citations

50 N.W. 403 (Wis. 1891)