Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
One who, in acting in self-defense, uses force in excess of that which he is privileged to use, is liable for so much of the force used as is excessive, and the other person has the normal privilege of defending himself against the use or attempted use of excessive force. In other words, to the extent that excessive violence and unnecessary force is used in repelling an assault, one becomes liable as trespasser and subject to an action for assault and battery. In determining whether the particular means used is or is not excessive, the amount of force exerted, the means or instrument by which it is applied, the manner or method of applying it, and the circumstances under which it is applied are factors to be considered.
On the day in question, defendant was the second in command of employees working on the garbage truck. Plaintiff testified at the trial that he accidentally struck defendant with a pitchfork, and that defendant kicked him and struck him with his fist, and poked him in the eye. The trial court entered on a jury verdict awarding damages for assault and battery in favor of plaintiff. Defendant contended that the trial court gave erroneous jury instructions on the issue of self-defense.
Did the defendant present sufficient evidence at trial to be entitled to assert the right of self-defense?
The court reversed the trial court's judgment. The court held that defendant presented sufficient evidence at trial in order to be entitled to assert the right of self-defense. The court held that two jury instructions given at the request of plaintiff constituted a prejudicial error because they operated to deprive defendant of the right to prove that he acted in self-defense. The court found that one of the jury instructions may have improperly authorized the jury to find that defendant caused the fight by giving plaintiff work directions on the day of the fight. The court found that the other jury instruction did not properly relate to the evidence in the case, and incorrectly stated the law regarding a person's liability for using excessive force when defending himself against an assault.