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Steber v. Norris

206 N.W. 173 (1925)

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Steber v. Norris

Wisconsin Supreme Court

206 N.W. 173 (1925)

Facts

Wilmer Steber (plaintiff) was an 11-year-old boy who worked on Mr. Norris’s (defendant) farm. Prior to working there, Steber’s mother gave Mr. Norris written permission to discipline Steber if necessary. One summer, while Steber was working, he failed to complete all his assigned tasks. As a result, Mr. Norris used corporal punishment with a rubber whip on Steber’s bare back to discipline him. Mr. Norris struck Steber dozens of times with the whip, and Steber brought suit against Mr. Norris for the discipline. During the trial, several physicians testified to the existence of stripes, abrasions, and scabs along Steber’s back and thighs. Additionally, multiple witnesses testified to the longevity of the marks and bruises, indicating they were severe. Mr. Norris claimed he had the authority to whip Steber because of the permission from Steber’s mother. At the trial, the jury was instructed that authority figures may adopt rules to promote discipline and may administer reasonable, not excessive, corporal punishment. The jury found for Steber and awarded him $1 in damages. Steber requested that the trial court increase the amount of damages, and the trial court refused. Steber appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jones, J.)

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