Sunday, March 24, 2013

Shugar v. Guill case brief

Shugar v. Guill case brief summary
283 S.E.2d 507 (N.C. 1981)

Plaintiff victim brought an action against defendant tortfeasor seeking damages for injuries allegedly caused by an assault and battery committed by defendant. The Court of Appeals (North Carolina), vacated the portion of a trial court's judgment, which awarded plaintiff punitive damages and reversed and remanded for a new trial the issue of compensatory damages. Plaintiff appealed the decision concerning the punitive damages.

OVERVIEW: Plaintiff contended he was entitled to punitive damages. The court of appeals found his complaint did not state a claim for punitive damages. The court disagreed, modified and affirmed court of appeal's judgment.

The court found that under the notice pleading theory there was sufficient information in the complaint from which defendant could have taken notice and been apprised of the events and transactions which produced the claim to enable him to understand the nature of it and the basis for it.

-However, the court reasoned that in cases involving assault and battery, punitive damages were recoverable only when the assault and battery was accompanied by an element of aggravation such as malice or the other aggravating circumstances.
-The court applied these principles to the facts of the case and concluded the evidence presented was not sufficient to permit the jury reasonably to infer that defendant's actions were activated by personal ill will toward plaintiff or that his acts were aggravated by oppression, insult, rudeness, or a wanton and reckless disregard of plaintiff's rights.

OUTCOME: The judgment of the court of appeals was modified and affirmed.

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