McGuire v Almy

Fact pattern and procedural history

Defendant, an insane person, was being cared for by plaintiff, who was aware of defendant’s mental state. During an episode, defendant struck plaintiff on the head, causing serious injuries. The trial court refused to enter a directed verdict for the defendant; defendant appealed.

Questions of law

Can a mentally ill or deranged person form the requisite intent to commit battery? Does a caretaker for a deranged person assume the risk of injury?

Finding

The court entered a judgment for the plaintiff. The court found that the caretaker did not consent or assume the risk, and held that the defendant “was capable of entertaining and…did entertain an intent to strike and to injure the plaintiff and that she acted upon that intent.” It reviewed, but ignored, concerns that the single-intent formulation of tort liability was too strict or archaic. It also discussed public policy grounds for such a view, arguing that an insane person ought to be required to pay for damages done, if he is able.

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