Garratt v. Dailey, 46 Wn.2d 198; 279 P.2d 1092 (1955)

Nov 8, 2022 State Case Briefs
Lawnchair

FACTS: Ruth Garratt alleges Brian Dailey deliberately pulled a lawn chair out from under her. Garratt maintains, as a result of Dailey’s actions, she fell to the ground and sustained a fracture of her hip. Dailey argues he attempted to aid Garratt in sitting down in the chair. However, due to his small size and lack of dexterity, he was unable to get the chair under Garratt in time to prevent her from falling to the ground.

ISSUE: Whether Dailey (Defendant) is liable for battery, if he knew with substantial certainty, that Garratt (Plaintiff) would attempt to sit down in the chair which he moved from under her.

RULE: 1 Restatement, Torts, 29, § 13, as:
‘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.’

ANALYSIS: The trial court argued the Defendant did not have the intent to injure the Plaintiff. However, the appeals court found the mere absence of any intent on part of the Defendant to injure, commit an assault or battery, play a prank, or to embarrass the Plaintiff would not absolve him from liability. Furthermore, the trial court did not resolve the issue as to whether the Defendant had such knowledge. If the Defendant had knowledge, the necessary intent will be established and the Plaintiff will be entitled to recover damages.

CONCLUSION: The Court remanded the case for clarification, with instructions to make definite findings on the issue of whether Defendant knew with substantial certainty that the Plaintiff would attempt to sit down in the chair which he moved from under her.

Quianna Canada

Quianna Canada

Quianna Canada is a B.A. Law student at the University of Arizona and a human rights defender. Her conversance with the American criminal justice system has made her passionate about justice and equality. Her focused researched on the ills of rankism, racism, and gender-based prejudice makes her an insightful expert at identifying maltreatment immanent in institutions, and how oppression effects ostracised persons in the world.