Vosburg v. Putney

78 Wis. 84, 47 N.W. 99 (1890)



In an action for personal injuries to a minor, evidence of the pecuniary circumstances of his father was inadmissible; and the error of admitting such testimony is not rendered immaterial by the fact that the court did not instruct the jury that this element was to be considered in assessing damages.


The parties were both students at the same high school. About a month prior to the incident, the injured student had received an injury to his shin  which seemed to have healed up. About a month after the incident, the injured student shin was injured again after the other student slightly hit the injured student's shin with his toe. This injury resulted in the permanent loss the use of his leg. There was no proof of any other hurt, and the medical testimony agreed that the touch or kick received by the injured student was the exciting cause of the injury. The trial court found the student liable for damages to the injured student. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin on two grounds: trial court erred in permitting a medical expert to opine that the injury received was the direct result of being kicked in the shin by another classmate and the injured student's father should not have been allowed to testify as to the family lifestyle and economic condition.


Did the trial court err on both grounds?




The Court remanded the case to the trial court for a new trial as a result of the two errors which occurred as asserted by the student. The Court held that the injured student was entitled to full compensation for his injury, no less and no more, whatever the pecuniary circumstances of his father were. The court also held that no foundation for the expert's medical testimony was laid.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.