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Vosburg v. Putney

Citation. 50 N.W. 403 (Wis. 1891)
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Brief Fact Summary.

A boy kicked another boy at school, causing him to lose his leg.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The intent to commit an unlawful act is inherently unlawful in the absence of an implied license.


Plaintiff and defendant were schoolboys who attended class together.  Plaintiff had a bone disease.  Before class one day, in the classroom, defendant kicked the plaintiff hard in the shin, causing the bone disease to spread and the plaintiff to lose his leg.


Was the defendant’s kicking of the plaintiff unlawful?


Yes, the defendant’s kicking of the plaintiff was unlawful because there was no implied license to engage in roughhousing.


The court came to several conclusions that led it to rule the way it did.  First, they reasoned that while school children are often prone to physical play, and that often times roughhousing is common among young boys.  However, those are schoolyard activities, there is no implied license to behave that way inside the classroom.  They then opine that if the kicking of the leg is unlawful, then the intent to kick the leg must also be unlawful, as it violated the implied license of decorum in the classroom.

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