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Allen v. Hannaford - 138 Wash. 423, 244 P. 700 (1926)

Rule:

Whether there is an assault in a given case depends more upon the apprehensions created in the mind of the person assaulted than upon what may be the secret intentions of the person committing the assault. The presence or absence of an assault depends more upon the apprehension created in the mind of the person assaulted than upon the undisclosed intentions of the person committing the assault. 

Facts:

Anna Hannaford was the owner and operator of an apartment complex, in which she also lived. Marie Allen, a tenant, had arranged to move to another apartment building. On the day that the movers arrived at the tenant's apartment, Hannaford came out of her apartment with a pistol and threatened to shoot all of them if they moved the tenant's furniture, later claiming that she had a lien for the rent that was then due from Allen and unpaid, and therefore, had a right to prevent the removal of the property from the premises. Hannaford then pointed the pistol at Allen's face and threatened to shoot her. Hannaford admitted having a pistol but denied pointing it at Allen. The jury found for Allen in her action for assault and awarded her damages. 

Issue:

Did the jury have a right to find that Hannaford pointed the pistol at her tenant and threatened to shoot?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court affirmed, finding that the jury had a right to find that Hannaford pointed the pistol at Allen and threatened to shoot. So far as Allen was concerned, Hannaford had the apparent ability to make her threat good and it was irrelevant whether there was any ammunition in the gun. Whether there is an assault in a given case depended more upon the apprehensions created in the mind of the person assaulted than upon what could be the secret intentions of the person committing the assault. Further, the court held that the damages were not excessive and were comparable to those awarded in other similar cases.

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