Vosburg v. Putney, 80 Wis. 523 (1891)
Two boys were in a classroom during school hours; the class had just been called to order
by the teacher. The defendant reached across the aisle with his foot and kicked his toe
against the plaintiff’s shin. Afterward, the shin area became infected, and the plaintiff
eventually became lame.
The case was originally brought before the circuit court. A trial in the circuit court
resulted in a Plaintiff’s verdict. The Defendant appealed to the Supreme Court of
Wisconsin. The case was reversed for error, and the Court awarded a new trial. The case
was tried again and resulted in another Plaintiff’s verdict. The Defendant appealed the
judgment to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.
Whether a boy satisfied the intent element of battery when he kicked another boy in the
knee (while in class) and, as a result, the knee later became infected and diseased.
Rule of Law
In an action to recover damages for an alleged assault and battery, the plaintiff must show
either that the defendant intended to do the act and the act was unlawful or that the
defendant intended the ultimate result. If the intended act is unlawful, then the intention
to commit it must necessarily be unlawful.
Yes. Because the defendant’s intentional act of kicking the plaintiff was unlawful, his
intention to kick plaintiff was also unlawful. Defendant was at fault for any harm
resulting from his unlawful act.
Here, the boy did not intend the end result (injuring his friend’s leg so severely), but he
did intend to kick him in the shin during a time (class in session) and a place (the
classroom) where this action (the kicking) was unlawful. Because he intended the act
(kicking) and the kick was unlawful, he satisfied the intent element of battery.
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