Garratt v Dailey case brief

Here you will see the Garratt v Dailey case brief.

Garratt v Dailey case is a well-known American tort law case that demonstrates the “intent” principle for intentional torts.

Garratt v Dailey case further clarifies that a five-year-old child can be held personally liable for intentional torts.

Here I will share with you the Garratt v Dailey case brief to help you understand everything you need to know about the Garratt v Dailey case in a simple and accurate way.

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Garratt v Dailey case brief

Garratt v. Dailey – 46 Wash. 2d 197, 279 P.2d 1091 (1955)

Decided on February 14, 1955.

by

Hill J, Supreme Court of Washington

Parties

Ruth Garratt is an Appellant and Brian Dailey a Minor, by George S. Dailey, his Guardian ad Litem, Respondent.

Procedural History

The Appellant sued the respondent for the battery. The trial court found in favor of Respondent.

The Appellant appealed to the Supreme Court of Washington, Supreme court remanded the decision of the trial court for clarification.

NB: Once the case was remanded for clarification, to determine whether the Respondent had sufficient knowledge to foresee the impact of his action, the trial court found in favor of the Appellant and the Supreme Court of Washington affirmed that decision.

Facts

Ruth Garratt was about to sit in a lawn chair when Brian Dailey, a 5-year-old boy, moved it as a result Garratt fell and was injured.

Garratt filed a battery lawsuit against the boy. The trial judge ruled in Dailey’s favor, stating that Dailey had no intention to injure Garratt.

Garratt was dissatisfied with the trial court decision and appealed to the Supreme Court of Washington.

Issue

  1. Can a minor commit tort?
  2. Can a person be liable for unintentional tort?

Rule

The court applied the rule stated in the definition of battery from the Restatement of Torts1The American Restatement of Torts, Second, is a treatise issued by the American Law Institute. It summarizes the general principles of common law United States tort law. The volumes covering torts are part of the second Restatements of the Law series. which states that;

1 Restatement, Torts, 29, § 13

“An act which, directly or indirectly, is the legal cause of a harmful contact with another’s person makes the actor liable to the other, if

“(a) the act is done with the intention of bringing about a harmful or offensive contact or an apprehension thereof to the other or a third person, and

“(b) the contact is not consented to by the other or the other’s consent thereto is procured by fraud or duress, and

“(c) the contact is not otherwise privileged.”

Reasoning

On applying the rule to the facts, the court reasoned that battery could only be found if it is shown that the Respondent knew with “substantial certainty” that after the chair was moved Garratt would attempt to sit in the chair’s original position.

That is, the Respondent must be substantially certain that his action would result in the contact.

The absence of an intent to harm or make a joke does not exempt the Respondent from liability.

It is sufficient for the plaintiff to prove only that the accused had sufficient knowledge to foresee the contact with “substantial certainty.”

Holding

  1. Yes, A tortious battery can be committed by anyone, even a minor.
  2. No,  A person can only be liable for the tort if he acted intentionally and with the knowledge that to a substantial certainty that their actions would cause harmful or offensive touching to another.

Judgment

The case was remanded to the trial court for clarification as to whether the Respondent had sufficient knowledge to foresee the impact of his action.

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Reference

  • 1
    The American Restatement of Torts, Second, is a treatise issued by the American Law Institute. It summarizes the general principles of common law United States tort law. The volumes covering torts are part of the second Restatements of the Law series.
Isack Kimaro
Isack Kimaro

Editor-in-chief and founder of sherianajamii.com. Holder of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. Lawyer by profession and blogger by passion