Thursday, February 9, 2012

Slayton v. McDonald case brief

Slayton v. McDonald
690 So. 2d 914

FACTS
-Action for assault and battery was brought in connection with shooting incident involving two 14 year old teenagers.
-McDonald (D) told Slayton (P) not to come to his house.  (P) did anyway.  D stated that P had a crazy look in his eye, warned him that he would shoot if he came closer, P did not listen, D shot him as he thought P was "crazy enough to kill him". 


ISSUE
-Was D liable in tort for shooting P.  Was the shooting in self-defense of assault and fear of battery reasonable?

HOLDING
-There was no liability due to the 'aggressor doctrine'.  The shooting in self-defense was reasonable.

RULES
-“Aggressor doctrine” precludes tort recovery where plaintiff acts in such a way as to provoke a reasonable person to use physical force in fear or anticipation of further injury at the hand of aggressor plaintiff, unless person retaliating has used excessive force to repel the aggression.
-Plaintiff is said to be the aggressor under aggressor doctrine when he is at fault in provoking altercation in which he was injured.
-Even when another party is initial aggressor, victim may use only so much force as is reasonably necessary to repel attack, and if victim goes beyond that point, he is liable for damages.
-In determining the amount of force which is justified in repelling an attack, all facts and circumstances at scene of incident must be considered.
-Generally, one is not justified in using dangerous weapon in self-defense if attacking party is not armed but only commits battery with his fists or in some manner not inherently dangerous to life.
-Resort to dangerous weapons to repel attack may be justifiable in certain cases when the fear of danger of the person attacked is genuine and founded on facts likely to produce similar emotions in reasonable persons; under this rule, it is only necessary that the actor have grounds that would lead a reasonable person to believe that employment of dangerous weapon is necessary, and that the actor actually so believes.


DISCUSSION
-Factors in determining reasonableness of an actor's use of dangerous weapon in self-defense are character and reputation of attacker, belligerence of attacker, a large difference in size and strength between the parties, an overt act by attacker, threats of serious bodily harm, and impossibility of peaceful retreat.

RULE OF LAW FROM THIS CASE
Fourteen-year-old used reasonable force to repel attacker of same age by shooting attacker in knee with shotgun, and thus was not liable for attacker's injuries, where fourteen-year-old shooter knew of attacker's reputation for belligerence and believed attacker might beat him up, repeatedly demanded that attacker leave his house, called law enforcement authorities to report unwanted presence of attacker, armed himself with shotgun but did not thereby deter attacker from advancing, and was unable to retreat from the encounter.

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