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Masters v. Becker

22 A.D.2d 118 (1964)

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Masters v. Becker

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division

22 A.D.2d 118 (1964)

Facts

Claudia Becker, a nine-year-old, and Susan Masters, a six-year-old, were playing with Claudia’s sister on a motor truck in an empty lot. Susan was standing on a narrow ledge on the outside of the truck’s tailgate when Claudia told her to get off. When Susan refused and said she was scared, Claudia pried Susan’s fingers off the tailgate and Susan fell to the ground and suffered severe injuries. In a suit against Claudia for assault, Claudia testified that she forced Susan off the ledge to give her sister a turn on the ledge so they could jump off. The trial court instructed the jury that to find liability for assault, it would have to find that Claudia intended the act that resulted in the injury, that Claudia intended to commit an injury, and that Claudia intended the very injury that Susan suffered. The trial court also asked the jury to answer whether a nine-year-old could, by her action, intend the injury that resulted to Susan in this case. Susan’s attorney objected and asked the trial court to instead instruct the jury that it only needed to find that the act was done with intent to inflict an offensive bodily contact. The trial court refused that instruction. The jury returned a verdict for Claudia. The trial court denied Susan’s motion for a new trial and Susan appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Christ, J.)

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