Ryan v. Napier (8/23/28)

We blogged the Court of Appeals’ opinion here; go there for the facts.

The Supreme Court vacates that opinion, reverses, and remands. “[W]e conclude that negligence and intent are mutually exclusive grounds for liability.”  “It follows that if a defendant acts with the intent to cause a harmful or offensive touching (battery), that same act cannot constitute negligence.” Neither negligent use of intentional force nor negligent evaluation of whether to use force is a tort.

The trial court should have granted the defense motion for summary judgment on negligence. Treating it as an an intermediate order affecting the judgment, the court remands for its entry.

The court also addresses other issues “to provide guidance.” Since they’re dicta the guidance value is not entirely solid; the court seems drawn to comment on them because the parties briefed them, which is the cart pulling the horse. In any event, the court says that the jury shouldn’t be instructed on 13-409 (defense of justification regarding arrest or escape) in a negligence case and that when it is used in a civil case the defendant bears the burden of proving it. And the court agrees with Judge Espinosa that expert witnesses shouldn’t purport to tell the jury what the legal standards for justification are.

(Opinion: Ryan v. Napier)