McGuire v. Almy Case Brief

Summary of McGuire v. Almy, (1937), 8 N.E.2d 760

Procedural History: P filed action for assault and battery by insane D. Trial court granted directed verdict (jury verdict?) for D. P appeals.

Facts: P was D’s 24 hour nurse. D was mentally insane and subject to violent spells, which P had experienced in the past. Her job was to deal with D’s episodes. On the day of the battery in question, P and another person heard the ruckus in D’s room. Upon looking into the room, P decided it would be best to remove the items D had broken in her insane acting out, and went to find D’s brother in law. With both the maid and brother in law present, P entered the room and tried to take hold of D’s hand, which was holding the leg of a chair. D hit P in the head with the chair, causing injury.

Issues: Was trial judge correct in issuing a directed verdict for D? >Yes.

Can a mentally insane person be liable for the intentional harms they cause? >Yes.

Holding: Judgment for plaintiff on the verdict.

Rationale: In general, courts have held insane people liable for their torts. An insane person is liable for harms caused intentionally, whether the intention was rationally based or not. It is good public policy that when in a case of two innocent people where one must bear the cost of a wrong, the one who occasioned the harm should bear the burden. This further encourages those in charge of insane people to take better care of them and control their actions, and prevents people who commit torts from feigning insanity to escape liability. Further, the court does not want to impose defining insanity on civil courts, in light of the difficulties it presents in the field of criminal law.

Can an insane person commit a battery?

Ø Battery requires intent.

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