After learning about liability we begin to discuss intent in torts.

Reading Notes

Remember that spent some time in lecture still needing to discuss liability. Those principles can be taught and understood in my first tort notes.

Garrett v. Dailey

Supreme Court of Washington, 1955 46 Wash.2d, 279 P.2d 1091.





Legal Questions

Is the child guilty of battery? Was there intent.


Yes, there was intent so the child can be held liable. Upon remanding, the lower court determined that he was guilty of battery.


Intent can be defined as knowing that the action will have the cause upon another person.


Dailey was a five year old boy who was at the Garretts. Dailey removed a chair from Garrett as she was sitting down. The injuries caused her 11,000 in damages. She sued. The jury found favor with Dailey’s facts saying that he was trying to put the chair under Garrett. The case went to the Supreme Court of Washington


The fact that Dailey was five is no relevance when it comes to tort law. So, he will be tried as an adult in this matter. He is being tried for battery. One important element of battery is intent. Here, we need to look at the intent to see if the injury was purposeful or not. When it comes it his age, it may be examined whether he had a “knowledge” that his action would cause Garrett to fall. This sequence of events was not examined in the trial court so it should be remanded and reexamined.

Upon further examination, Dailey said that he knew that Garrett would likely fall from his removing the chair. There was intent, and Garretts request for damages was met.

Wagner v. State

Supreme Court of Utah, 2005. 2005 UT 54, 122 P.3d 599.




the State of Utah

Legal Question

Whether the action of Mr. Giese is a battery. What constitutes Intent?



“We hold that the actor need not intend that his contact be harmful or offensive in order to commit a battery so long as he deliberately made the contact and so long as that contact satisfies our legal test for what is harmful or offensive.”

In other words, battery does not equal intention to harm but does equal intention to make contact. If that contact is harmful, then it is battery. Here, Mr. Giese committed battery, the court is not liable to his actions.


In reference to the test mentioned above, a battery must meet two elements. First, the contact is deliberate, Second, the contact was harmful or offensive.


Mr. Giese was at a K-mart being supervised by the state when he grabbed Mrs. Wagner and threw her to the ground. She filed suit and the court made a motion to dismiss because the state is immune from battery. Mrs. Wagner says that this does not constitute a battery. The trial and appellate court ruled in favor of the state.


Mrs. Wagner says that this is not battery because the client was not able to have intent to create harm because of his mental capacity.

This constitutes a battery. Here, the intent is to make contact. The intent to create a harm does not matter. If you make contact, and that contact is seen as harmful, that constitutes a battery. Therefore, Mr. Giese intended to make contact (his motive does not matter) and his contact was seen as harmful.

The case is related to the state, and because they are immune from battery, the motion to dismiss is sustained.

Ranson v. Kitner

Appellate Court of Illinois, 1880. 31 Ill.App. 241.

Plaintiff and Defendants

I’m not sure who was who in this case because they are not referred to by name in the edited text. Although I could infer who was who based on the order, I will not make that judgement until lecture.

Legal Question

Is a defendant liable for the mistake of shooting a dog they believed to be a wolf?


Yes, they may be liable for this mistake.


Appellant was hunting for wolves. Appellee had a dog that resembled a wolf. Appellant shot and killed dog believing it was a wolf. The jury found the Appellant guilty and liable to pay the damages of the dog.


Although you may act in good faith, you are liable for your mistakes. Even if there is no intent, you must be held responsible for your mistakes. So, the appellant can be found liable for killing the dog.

Additional Notes

Review and completion of liability

We continue to go over the narrative ark from the previous lecture. We are still examining the liability of the defendant.

Picking up with Weaver, we examine Brown v. Kimball. The biggest takeaway from these cases are outlined below

  • In Weaver, the defendant is at fault unless they can prove otherwise
  • In Brown, the defendant is not at fault unless the plaintiff can prove otherwise.

Next we looked at Cohen v. Petty. Here is the biggest takeaway from this case

  • The plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant was negligent. You are not negligent if you have no knowledge of a prior condition to the tort occurring.

In Spano v. Perini we return to a similar concept of absolute liability (regardless of fault). However, this only applies to “abnormally dangerous activities.”

Intentional interference with person or property

Now, we’re moving to intentional torts (intent in torts).

In Garratt v. Dailey, it is important to note that parents are not liable for the torts of kids. So, to collect payment, the child needs to be a trust fund baby, have a large piggy bank, parents will be liable, or they have insurance. If none of these things exist, the party would probably not file suit.

The important lesson from this is that the plaintiff has to prove that Brian had a knowledge of what his actions would do. That is intent. The first way to establish intent is if you say that is what you wanted to do. Second, if you can prove to a substantial certainty that would be the result, then there is also intent.


The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.

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