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Breunig v. American Family Insurance Co

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Citation. Breunig v. American Family Ins. Co., 45 Wis. 2d 536, 173 N.W.2d 619, 1970 Wisc. LEXIS 1138, 49 A.L.R.3d 179 (Wis. 1970)

Brief Fact Summary. Erma Veith, an insured of American Family Insurance Company (Defendant), became involved in an automobile accident with (Plaintiff) when she was suddenly seized with a mental delusion. The jury awarded Defendant $7,000 in damages.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Not all types of insanity are a defense to a charge of negligence.

Facts. Veith, an insured of Defendant, was driving her car when it struck a car driven by Plaintiff. Veith’s car veered across the center of the road and into Plaintiff’s lane. Defendant claimed Veith was not negligent because just prior to the collision she suddenly and without warning was seized with a mental delusion which rendered her unable to operate the car with her conscious mind. Veith told her psychiatrist that she was driving when she believed that God was taking a hold of the steering wheel and was directing her car. She saw the truck coming and stepped on the gas in order to become air borne because she knew she could fly because she thought she could fly like Batman. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff because they found that Veith had knowledge and forewarning of her mental delusions. More specifically, the court, despite the testimony of the psychiatrist, found that Veith had knowledge of her condition due to her past conduct. Therefore, the question was properl
y left for the jury. Defendant, insurance company, appealed.

Issue. Did Veith have foreknowledge of her susceptibility to a mental delusion as to make her negligent in driving a car?
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