Monday, November 11, 2013

Alcorn v. Mitchell case brief

Alcorn v. Mitchell case brief summary
63 Ill. 553 (1872)

Defendant sought review of a judgment of the Circuit Court of Marion County (Illinois), which was entered upon a jury verdict awarding damages to plaintiff in his action against defendant seeking damages relating to an incident where defendant in the presence of a large group of people at the close of a trial on an action of trespass between the parties spit in plaintiff's face.


Defendant argued that the damages were excessive.


  • The court found that it was customary to instruct juries that they could give vindictive damages where there were circumstances of malice, willfulness, wantonness, outrage, and indignity attending the wrong complained of. 
  • The court held that so long as damages were allowable in any civil case, by way of punishment or for the sake of example, the present, of all cases, would have seemed to be a most fit one for the award of such damages. 
  • The court found that the act in question was one of the greatest indignity, highly provocative of retaliation by force, that the law, as far as it could have, should have afforded substantial protection against such outrages, in the way of liberal damages, and that the public tranquillity could be preserved by saving the necessity of resort to personal violence as the only means of redress. 
  • The court held that defendant's act was one of pure malignity, done for the mere purpose of insult and indignity. 
  • The court carefully looked into the instructions given and refused and did not perceive any substantial error.

The court affirmed the judgment.

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