Fisher v. Carrousel Motor Hotel Case Brief

Summary of Fisher v. Carrousel Motor Hotel, 424 S.W.2d 627 (Tex. 1967)

Facts: Plaintiff was attending a seminar luncheon at Brass Ring Club (part of Carrousel Motor Hotel) and while the plaintiff was waiting in the line to get food, the defendant (manager of Brass Ring Club) abruptly grabbed the plate from the plaintiff and yelled in a loud voice “a Negro could not be served in the club." Plaintiff was not physically injured by the defendant’s conduct, but he did testify that he was extremely embarrassed by and hurt by the defendant’s conduct.

Procedure: The jury found for the plaintiff and awarded the $400 in actual damages and $500 in exemplary damages. The jury also found that the Carrousel Motor Hotel is liable for the actions of its employee. The judge ruled for the defendant not withstanding the verdict. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed and ruled that no assault took place because no physical contact or apprehension of such contact was made.

Issue: 1. Was there a battery committed in this case? 2. Can the corporate defendants be held liable for the actions of the defendant?

Holding: 1. Yes, 2. Yes

Rationale: According to the court: “…it has long been settled that there can be a battery without an assault, and that actual physical contact is not necessary to constitute batter, so long as there is contact with clothing or an object closely identified with the body…" The defendant in the current case abruptly took the plate out of the plaintiff’s hands. Such snatching of an object out of the hands of a person is clearly offensive invasion of his person. Furthermore, the court found that Carrousel Motor Hotel can be held liable for the actions of the defendant because defendant held the high position of manager of the Brass Ring Club.

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