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#TBT: Vosburg v. Putney

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In 1989, Andrew Vosburg, the plaintiff, was recovering from an injury below his right knee, when defendant, George Putney, lightly kicked Vosburg in the same spot, in a Waukesha, Wisconsin high school. At first, Vosburg didn’t feel the pain from the kick, but a few moments later, he felt a sharp pain in his right leg and began to cry out loud. Vosburg became ill and had to be helped the next day. Four days later, Vosburg started vomiting. Dr. Bacon came to see Vosburg the next day after prescribing medicine for stopping the vomiting. The doctor concluded that, Vosburg had a slight discoloration in his skin an inch below the knee, called the tibia. Dr. Bacon also prescribed Vosburg anodynes to lessen the pain. An operation was performed on the leg, which the doctor eventually found that the bone showed signs of Putney’s touch or kicking, based off of the black and blue spots on his shin bone. Vosburg was not going to be able to recover from this.

The doctors theorized that the leg was in a disease condition when it was touched or kick, which “excited” the microbes that were already released between the knee and the injury.

The medical witnesses testified that the kick had “excited” the injury which caused severe damages and that there was no other explanation to how his shin displayed black and blue spots. The jury rendered a verdict that the defendant must pay the plaintiff $2,800 for damages from assault and battery.

The defendant was granted from the Appellant Court to reverse the verdict.

However, the court still resided with Vosburg despite the fact that Putney had no intention of causing harm to Vosburg. The case relies on the “eggshell skull rule,” which allows the plaintiff to gain compensation for damages from the defendant if the defendant were to directly injure the plaintiff, causing another effect other than pain. The pain and suffering that Vosburg encountered after the kick was a direct effect from the touch or kick of Putney. The effects of the kick were not foreseeable, therefore making the defendant fully liable.

The only way that the defendant was able to refute the claim, or in other words, use the “crumbling skull rule,” the defendant must prove that the two were in public doing outside activities, such as playing kickball.

The effects of the injury from Putney’s kick was not inevitable, therefore unable to be foreseen, hence the reason why Vosburg was able to win in the Appellate Court.





Fischer, David J. "Eggshell Skull Law - The Crumbling Skull Rule." Eggshell Skull Law - The Crumbling Skull Rule. COLUMBIA CENTER FOR OCCUPATIONAL & FORENSIC PSYCHIATRY, n.d. Web. 22 July 2014.

"Vosburg v. Putney." Vosburg v. Putney. Harvard Law, n.d. Web. 22 July 2014.

"Vosburg v. Putney | Casebriefs." Casebriefs. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 July 2014.

Joseph M. Ghabour
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Auto, Bus, Pedestrian, Motorcycle accident, medical malpractice and worker's compensation attorney.
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