Nelson v. Carroll

355 Md. 593, 735 A.2d 1096 (1999)



A battery occurs when one intends a harmful or offensive contact with another without that person's consent. The act in question must be some positive or affirmative action on the part of the defendant.


Defendant shot plaintiff in the stomach in the course of an altercation over a debt owed to defendant by plaintiff. Defendant, who was a "little tipsy," demanded repayment by plaintiff. Plaintiff immediately offered to make a partial payment but that was unsatisfactory to defendant. Plaintiff testified that defendant pulled out his pistol and said that he wanted all of his money, and that the next thing that plaintiff knew, he heard a shot and saw that he was bleeding. The defense argued that the actual gunshot occurred accidentally. Plaintiff claimed that circuit court, at trial, should have granted his motion for judgment as to liability, with the only question remaining for the jury being the damages resulting from the discharge of the gun. On appeal, the court reversed and remanded.


Was evidence sufficient to show defendant's intent to commit battery?




In the instant case, the unchallenged evidence shows that defendant entered the bar openly carrying the gun, which he then used to strike plaintiff, and then the shot occurred as he went to strike him again. The only reasonable inference that can be drawn from the circumstances of this shooting, which in essence are uncontested, is that defendants's actions evidenced an intent to commit a battery.

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