Law School Case Brief
In re White - 18 B.R. 246 (Bankr. E.D. Va. 1982)
A debt incurred from an action based upon a willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another person may be nondischargeable in bankruptcy. The word "willful" means deliberate or intentional. A discharge under section 727, 1141, or 1328(b) of the Bankruptcy Code does not discharge an individual debtor from any debt for willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of another entity, 11 U.S.C.S. § 523(a)(6).
On September 10, 1977 defendant Walter Calvin White, Jr. shot plaintiff Ralph Edward Davis with a handgun. Davis was aiming at Tipton (not a party to this action) when the bullet hit Davis. The Circuit Court of the City of Richmond found White guilty of maiming Davis and sentenced him to serve five years in the state penitentiary. Davis obtained a default judgment against White in the amount of $ 50,000 in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond on the ground that White willfully and maliciously wounded Davis. White subsequently filed his petition in bankruptcy. In this proceeding under 11 U.S.C.S. § 523(a)(6), plaintiff Davis asked the bankruptcy court to declare defendant White's debt on account of that judgment nondischargeable in bankruptcy.
Was defendant White's debt to injured plaintiff Davis nondischargeable in bankruptcy as a willful and malicious injury by the debtor?
The United States Bankruptcy Court held that the evidence clearly showed that the shooting was a wrongful act intentionally done and that Davis's injuries resulted from that act. White deliberately, intentionally and maliciously fired the gun at Tipton, with the result of injuring Davis. The Court held that the debt resulting from that act was nondischargeable in bankruptcy. A debt incurred from an action based upon a willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another person may be nondischargeable in bankruptcy. The word "willful" means deliberate or intentional.
White committed the wrongful act when he shot at Tipton. The act was intentional and it produced an injury although not to the person White intended to injure. Under the doctrine of transferred intent one who intends a battery is liable for that battery when he unexpectedly hits a stranger instead of the intended victim.
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