Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Spivey v. Battaglia case brief summary

Spivey v. Battaglia case brief summary (Florida - 1972)
Brief Fact Summary
Petitioner suffered a sharp pain, followed by paralysis on the left side of her face after Respondent put his arm around her in a "friendly, unsolicited hug." Petitioner brought suit against the respondent for negligence and assault and battery.
Rules (Assault and Battery)
"...[A]n assault and a battery is not negligence, for such action is unintentional, while negligence connotes an unintentional act." Additionally, "negligence is a relative term and its existence must depend in each a case upon the particular circumstances which surround the parties at the time and place of the events upon which the controversy is based."
Issue:  Whether the petitioner’s action could be maintained on the negligence count, or whether respondent’s conduct amounted to assault & battery as a matter of law, which would bar the suit under the two-year Statute of Limitations (which had run)?

Holding:  Yes, the petitioner’s action could be maintained on the negligence count, which the jury would decide if the respondent’s actions are negligent or not.

Legal Reasoning:
  • an assault & battery is not negligence, for such action is intentional, while negligence connotes an unintentional act.”
  • The settled law is that a D becomes liable for reasonably foreseeable consequences, though the exact results & damages were not contemplated
  • Reasonable man test – it is not certain that a reasonable man in the shoes of D’s position would believe that the bizarre results herein were “substantially certain” to follow – SC said this is unreasonable conclusion & is the application of the rule in McDonald
Further Class Notes:
  • Harmful contact is apparent = intentional hug and pulled P towards D and paralysis of the face.
  • Negligence v. Battery
    • Negligence is unintentional while Battery requires intent
      • Two conflicting causes of action – let the court decide which one is right and throw out the other C of A
  • This court looks at the knowledge portion of the intent requirement.
    • Did D have knowledge with substantial certainty that his conduct would hurt the P
    • Was it foreseeable by a reasonable person that the result of the D’s actions would have occurred?
      • Court said no
  • Negligence v. Intent
    • Where the consequences foreseeable based on the conduct? – N
    • At a certain point, foreseeability runs into the knowledge of substantial certainty
      • Where does this occur is not clear
  • What the court is doing is going on policy, they are at least trying to give the P a chance for recovery through negligence since.
  • The court did not analyze the other way intent can be determined, which the D did willfully and purposely made his actions.
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1 comment:

  1. Spivey v Battaglia ( Supreme Court of Florida, 1972)

    Relevant Facts---- Spivey and Battaglia were employees of Battaglia Fruit Co. At lunch several employees were sitting around. Battaglia (defendant), as a joke because the plaintiff was shy, gave her a “friendly, unsolicited” hug. He pulled her head toward him and in the process injured her neck. She felt pain in the neck and ear and skull. As a result she was paralyzed on the left side of her face and mouth.

    Procedural History---- Spivey brought suit for negligence and assault and battery. The trial court dismissed the case on the defense that the 2 year statute of limitations had expired for an assault and battery. District Court (Appeals) affirmed that ruling, citing McDonald v. Ford ( * set of facts (page 21 love making attempts) proved it was an assault and battery. RULE OF LAW: Assault and battery is not negligence because it is intentional! Negligence denotes something unintentional. Assault does NOT need intent, only the knowledge with a substantial certainty that the results could occur.)

    Issue--- Is this an assault and battery or negligence? Assault and battery would have expired under 2 year statute of limitations, but negligence can stand up.

    Holding--- No assault and battery. Case should be sent to the jury to decide on the negligence count. Summary judgment reversed
    Reasoning--- Unlike McDonald, there was no way that Battaglia could have known with substantial certainty that the results (injuries to Spivey) could occur. Therefore no assault occurred and the summary judgments and dismissals should not have occurred. Instead the case should be decided on negligence, which is decided by the differing circumstances in each case.

    Judgment/ Resulting Rule-- -Reversed summary final judgment. Difference between intentional and “substantial certainty rule” although both qualify for assault and battery must exist. It can affect things like penalties, statute of limitations, liability.


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