Torts I, Pages 26–28

McGuire v. Almy

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, 1937

Facts:

Plaintiff was a nurse employed to care for defendant. Defendant had been violent, but not against people. Defendant broke off chest leg. Plaintiff called others come and try to help and tried to take defendant's hand, but defendant hit her in the head with the leg.

Issue:

To what extent is an insane person liable?

Rule:

Bell: Mental illness does not negate intent for intentional torts.

Judgment:

Judgment for the plaintiff.

Reasoning:

Defendant knew swinging the leg would hit plaintiff.

Notes:

  • The act must be volitional still.

  • Must have duty to supervise to be liable for a mentally ill person's tort. Being a familial caretaker is not enough.

  • Minority says paid caretakers can't sue patient.