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De May v. Roberts

Citation. 46 Mich. 160, 9 N.W. 146
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Brief Fact Summary.

Defendant brought a man named Scattergood to assist in plaintiff’s childbirth. Plaintiff did not realize Scattergood had no knowledge of the medical field. During the delivery, Scattergood held plaintiff’s hand throughout her labor pains. Plaintiff sued, alleging that Scattergood’s contact constituted an assault.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Consent is invalid when there is an omission of material fact.


De May was invited to Roberts’ home to delivery her baby. Fatigued from overwork, De May requested that Scattergood accompany him on the trip. De May was aware of Scattergood’s ignorance of the practice of medicine. Nonetheless, De May brought Scattergood inside Roberts’ home to help attend to the delivery. At the time, Roberts believed that Scattergood was an assistant physician and “a competent and proper person to be present” during the childbirth. Scattergood held Roberts’ hand during her labor pains. Roberts discovered after the childbirth that Scattergood was actually an “unprofessional young unmarried man.” Roberts sued De May and Scattergood for assault.


Is consent valid when the a material fact is omitted?


No. Consent cannot be obtained through deceit. De May should have disclosed that Scattergood had no knowledge of the medical profession before allowing him to assist in the delivery. The judgment in favor of Roberts is affirmed.


Roberts had a right to privacy within her home. This right of privacy allowed her to preclude others from observing private, intimate acts like her childbirth. Roberts was unaware of Scattergood’s “true character” when he visited her home. Roberts only consented to Scattergood’s presence because, under the circumstances, she assumed him to be an assistant physician. De May failed to disclose Scattergood’s lack of credentials in the medical field. Therefore, the parties are guilty of deceit and Roberts is entitled to recover damages.

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