De May v. Roberts

De May v. Roberts, 46 Mich. 160, 9 N.W. 146 (1881)



Where a wrong has been done another, the law gives a remedy. Where the full extent and character of the injury done may not be ascertained or known until long after, an action brought for damages therefor may be fully awarded.


Plaintiff was a poor married pregnant woman confined to bed. Defendant doctor was her physician. Defendant doctor brought defendant stranger to plaintiff's home. When plaintiff went into labor, defendant doctor and another defendant, a stranger, were present. Plaintiff's home was very small consisting of one room divided by a partition. While plaintiff was in the pains of childbirth, defendant stranger, who intruded upon the privacy of the plaintiff, indecently, wrongfully, and unlawfully laid hands upon and assaulted her. Defendant stranger was well known to defendant doctor as a young unmarried man, a stranger to plaintiff, and utterly ignorant of the practice of medicine. Plaintiff believed that he was an assistant physician, a competent and proper person to be present and to aid her in her extremity. Plaintiff filed an action for damages for deceit and the trial court ruled in her favor. Defendants appealed but the judgment affirmed.


Are defendants liable for damages for deceit?




The supreme court, finding sufficient evidence and no error, affirmed holding defendant stranger's presence was a violation of plaintiff's privacy. Defendants were guilty of deceit for not revealing the true nature of defendant stranger's presence and plaintiff was entitled to damages plaintiff sustained from the shame and mortification she suffered upon discovering the true character of the defendants.

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