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Breunig v. American Family Insurance Co.

Wisconsin Supreme Court
173 N.W.2d 619 (Wis. 1970)


Facts

Breunig (plaintiff) was hit by a car driven by Erma Veith, an insured of American Family Insurance Co. (American) (defendant). Veith’s car veered across the center lane of the road into Breunig’s lane. Immediately prior to the accident, Veith suffered an “insane delusion which rendered her unable to operate the automobile with her conscious mind.” Veith saw a white light on the car in front of her and believed God was directing her car. Veith accelerated, believing she could fly “because Batman does it.” Veith had a history of mental illness and hallucinatory visions prior to the accident. American refused to pay Breunig's claim. Breunig sued American on the ground that Veith was negligent. American argued that Veith could not be held liable for negligence because of her insane delusion. At trial, the jury returned a verdict for Breunig and awarded $10,000, which was later reduced $7,000, in damages. American appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Hallows, C.J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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