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Law School Case Brief

Ashcraft v. King - 228 Cal. App. 3d 604, 278 Cal. Rptr. 900 (1991)

Rule:

A battery is any intentional, unlawful and harmful contact by one person with the person of another. A harmful contact, intentionally done is the essence of a battery. A contact is unlawful if it is unconsented to.

Facts:

Plaintiff patient filed an action against defendant doctor, alleging that she had agreed to surgery on the condition that only blood donated by her family would be used for her transfusions. During plaintiff's surgery, blood from the hospital's general supplies were used. Thereafter, plaintiff acquired HIV allegedly from the transfused blood, and she brought suit for battery. Upon a motion from defendant doctor, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) granted a nonsuit in her battery cause of action against defendant doctor. Plaintiff patient appealed the entry of nonsuit.

Issue:

Did the trial court err when it granted a nonsuit on the battery cause of action?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court stated that plaintiff could have placed conditions on her consent for surgery and if defendant exceeded the terms or conditions of the consent, then the intent requirement for battery was present. The court stated that evidence showed defendant had permission to operate on condition he used family-donated blood but that he operated using blood from the hospital's general supply and this evidence was sufficient to allow the jury to infer an intent to willfully disregard plaintiff's conditional consent. The court stated that the trial court erred when it granted a nonsuit on the battery cause of action.

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