Monday, November 11, 2013

Breunig v. American Family Insurance Co. case brief

Breunig v. American Family Insurance Co. case brief summary
173 N.W.2d 619 (Wis. 1970)

Appeal from a judgment of the Circuit Court for Dane County (Wisconsin), upon a jury verdict for plaintiff in a negligence action.


  • Tortfeasor was involved in an automobile accident with plaintiff.
  • At trial, defendant argued that tortfeasor was not negligent as a matter of law because there was no evidence upon which the jury could find that she had knowledge, or warning, or should have reasonably foreseen that she might be subject to a mental delusion which would suddenly cause her to lose control of her car. 
  • Plaintiff argued there was such evidence of forewarning and also suggested tortfeasor was liable because insanity should not be a defense in negligence cases. 
  • The jury found for plaintiff and awarded damages; however, the lower court reduced the damages.

On appeal, the court affirmed, holding that while insanity could be a defense in a negligence action, it was for the jury to decide whether the facts underpinning an expert opinion were true.


Judgment affirmed because the question of whether tortfeasor had warning or knowledge that her hallucinations would occur and would be such as to affect her driving was a jury issue.

Suggested Study Aids For Tort Law

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