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Vosburg v. Putney

Law Dictionary
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Torts Keyed to Epstein

Citation. Vosburg v. Putney, 86 Wis. 278, 56 N.W. 480, 1893 Wisc. LEXIS 133 (Wis. 1893)

Brief Fact Summary. Putney (Defendant) slightly, but unlawfully, kicked Vosburg (Plaintiff) during school. Defendant did not intent to do any harm to Plaintiff. Although the kick was slight, Plaintiff lost the use of his limb because Defendant’s kick revivified a previous injury.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. In actions for assault and battery, Plaintiff must show either that the intention was unlawful, or that Defendant is at fault. The wrongdoer is liable for all injuries resulting directly from the wrongful act whether they could or could not have been foreseen by him.


Facts. Plaintiff brought an action against Defendant to recover damages for assault and battery. Both Plaintiff (14-years old) and Defendant (11-years old) are students. Plaintiff and Defendant were sitting opposite each other across an aisle in school. Defendant reached across the aisle and slightly kicked Plaintiff in the shin. At first Plaintiff did not feel it. However, a few minutes later, Plaintiff felt a violent pain and cried out loudly. A few days before this incident, Plaintiff had hurt the same spot on his leg. Plaintiff’s) leg was in the process of healing. The theory of at least one of the medical witnesses was that Defendant’s kick revivified the microbes, causing bone destruction. Medical testimony agreed that Defendant’s slight kick was the exciting cause of the injury to P. P lost the use of his limb. The jury rendered a verdict for Plaintiff in the amount of $2,800. The case was again tried in the circuit court, and the trial resulted in a verdict for Plaintiff in t
he amount of $2,500. Defendant appealed from the judgment.

Issue. There are 2 separate issues in this case. The first issue deals with intent. The second issue addresses damages.
* Is the rule “the intention to do harm is of the essence of an assault”ť in actions to recover for assault, applicable to actions to recover for assault and battery?
* Is the wrongdoer liable for all injuries resulting directly from the wrongful act, whether they could or could not have been foreseen by him?
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