Torts II, Pages 662–665

Freehe v. Freehe

Supreme Court of Washington, 1972

Facts:

Plaintiff sued his wife for negligently maintaining a tractor. All of her farming was completely separate from plaintiff, and he had no interest in it.

Procedural History:

Trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment based on interspousal tort immunity.

Issue:

Does interspousal immunity protect defendant?

Reasoning:

Interspousal immunity has three bases:

  • Unity of marriage
    • Traditionally, the Biblical principle of a man and woman becoming one has been followed, although distorted into the man being the one and the woman becoming his chattel.
    • In such a modern society, such an outdated concept is not applicable.
  • Preservation of peace and tranquility
    • Spouses should manage their own peace and tranquility. If they really had peace and tranquility, one would not be suing the other.
  • Sufficiency of criminal and divorce laws
    • Criminal and divorce laws do not compensate for torts.

Rule/Holding:

The rule of interspousal immunity in personal injury cases is abandoned.

Judgment:

Reversed and remanded.

Note:

This is the majority rule.

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