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Law School Case Brief

Vosburg v. Putney (1893) - 86 WIS. 278, 56 N.W. 480 (1893)


If a kick inflicted by defendant student upon another student was the exciting cause of the injury complained of, and such injury was the natural consequence of the kick, the defendant is liable therefor, although the injured student's physical condition might have aggravated the injury. 


At school, defendant Putney, a minor, kicked another minor child, A.V., which caused serious injury to A.V.'s leg. The leg became so infected that it required amputation. Plaintiff Vosburg, A.V.'s father, filed a lawsuit against Putney in Wisconsin state court seeking to recover damages for assault and battery on A.V. The circuit court permitted a medical expert to testify as to the cause of A.V.'s injuries. Putney's proposed instruction, that plaintiff father Vosburg could not recover for an injury that merely aggravated a preexisting disease, was not submitted to the jury. The jury returned a verdict for Vosburg and assessed his damages at $ 1,200. Putney's motion for a new trial was denied, and judgment for Vosburg was entered on the verdict. Putney appealed the decision, arguing that he was entitled to a directed verdict because A.V.'s injury aggravated a preexisting disease and that expert medical testimony was inadmissible.

Procedural note: A related lawsuit for the same assault and battery was brought by the minor son, A.V., against defendant: 78 Wis. 84 (1890) and 80 Wis. 523 (1891).


Was defendant student Putney entitled to a directed verdict in a lawsuit by plaintiff father Vosburg, whose minor son was kicked by defendant?




In 1893, the appellate court affirmed the circuit court's decision and affirmed the jury's verdict. The court held that medical witnesses were allowed to give their opinions about the cause of A.V.'s injury. The court further ruled that Putney's proposed instruction was an inaccurate statement of the law.

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