SW Legal Educational Publishing

Intent to Batter Another Person Eliminates Claim of Accident for Shooting That Resulted
Description When two men got in a fight, one drew a gun and struck the other one. The gun then fired, causing injury. When sued for battery, the defense of accident was claimed since there was no intent to shoot. The high court of Maryland held that this defense was not available since there was intent to batter the victim with the gun.
Topic Torts
Key Words Battery; Elements; Defense
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Nelson owed Carroll money. Carroll confronted Nelson in a bar about the debt. The two argued. Carroll struck Nelson on the side of the head with a gun, pulled back and shot Nelson. Carroll faced criminal charges, but was also sued by Nelson for battery. Carroll claimed a defense of accident, that he only intended to hit Nelson, it was an accident that the gun fired. The question before the high court of Maryland was if this was a valid defense.
Decision A purely accidental touching, or one caused by mere inadvertence, is not enough to establish the intent required for the tort of battery. The intent element of battery does not require a specific desire to bring about a certain result, but rather a general intent to unlawfully invade another's physical well-being through a harmful or offensive contact or an apprehension of such a contact. Even if Carroll did not intend to shoot Nelson, he is responsible for the injury in this battery because he intended to use the gun to frighten or injure Nelson.
Citation Nelson v. Carroll, 735 A.2d 1096 (Ct. App., Mary., 1999)

Back to Torts Listings

©1997-2001  South-Western, All Rights Reserved