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Van Camp v. McAfoos

Melissa A. Hale

ProfessorMelissa A. Hale

CaseCast "What you need to know"

CaseCast –  "What you need to know"

Van Camp v. McAfoos

Citation. Van Camp v. McAfoos, 261 Iowa 1124 (Iowa 1968)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Van Camp (Plaintiff) sued, alleging that Mark McAfoos (Defendant), while riding his tricycle collided with Plaintiff causing injury to her Achilles tendon. The trial court sustained a motion to dismiss. Plaintiff appealed.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Where an essential element of the cause of action is missing, the question is not what may be shown under the pleading but whether a cause of action has been pled.


Plaintiff alleged that three year-old Defendant was riding his tricycle on a sidewalk, and without warning drove it into the rear of the Plaintiff injuring her Achilles tendon. She contended that Defendants’ behavior was the proximate cause of her injury, which required surgery. The thrust of Plaintiff’s claim, the court observed, was that she was entitled to recovery regardless of the presence of fault or wrongdoing.


Did Plaintiff plead a cause of action?


The decision of the trial court was upheld, the Supreme Court of Iowa maintained that, while a child of “tender years: may be held liable in tort, the relevant precedents have fault as an essential element.” That element was absent in this case.


McAfoos is illustrative of the factors to be examined with respect to evaluating the bases or grounds for liability. In other areas of tort law, such as medical malpractice, toxic torts, and product liability, the “net” may be considerably broader, not requiring the intentionally wrongful or negligently wrongful behavior of the Defendant. The court in McAfoos was not inclined to extend such liability to a child on a tricycle.

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