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Three Case Briefs in Criminology

Macomber v. Dillman Case


The plaintiffs Macomber had approached the defendants to have a permanent operation for sterilization, that is, tubal ligation. The operation was done by the defendants. However, the plaintiff conceived a child after the operation. The plaintiffs thus filed a suit to the superior court to which they alleged the negligence and carelessness due to the failure of complying with the medical practice standards of care for such operation.

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The plaintiffs wanted the defendants to pay damages for the expenses in relation to the child as well as other costs incurred in the process. The defendants sought the dismissal of the case based on the assertion that the plaintiff had not stated the claim for the granting of relief and that they could not pay damages since the child was normal and healthy. The superior court denied the defendants their motion and settled for the analysis that if the plaintiffs prevailed in the case, they were liable to receive the foreseeable, reasonable and necessary damages even relating to the raising of the child.

The court did not rule on the issue of whether the benefits that were apparently recoverable by the plaintiffs would be offset by the “parenthood benefits”. The superior court forwarded the case to the Supreme judicial court of Maine for settlement of suit.


The defendants contended that the plaintiffs needed to make a statement of claim to warrant the granting of relief. However, the actions of the plaintiff were not a representation of a new cause of action. Basing the argument on common law regarding torts, the court relied on the MacDonald v. MacDonald case in which in tort, the existence of a cause of action was recognizable when the negligent act of one person was the actual claim of damages to another person. The statement of a claim upon which relief could be granted required the complaint to have necessary elements of the facts or cause of action for entitling the plaintiff upon relief.

The court interpreted the case on the facts of the Woolley v. Henderson case in which once a plaintiff makes claims of having suffered a personal injury due to medical mistreatment, his/her remedy is usually in a complaint of negligence. The necessary elements of causes of action as a result of negligence were analyzed from Wing v. Morse as being duty owed whose breach caused injuries and damages to the plaintiff. These arguments set forth the necessary cause of action that is expected in negligence.

The issue of the scope of damages recoverable by the plaintiffs raised different opinions. The normal policy is that a parent is not likely to suffer from child-raising, but a spouse has a right to recover damages for the loss of the consortium of his/her spouse as was in this case as interpreted from Britton v. Dube. The aspect of injury recognition from the birth of a child was established and attributed to the negligence of the health care provider as provided in Rubin v. Matthews Int’l. This is true although the birth of a child who is normal and healthy cannot be blamed for parental injury.

The different opinions also related to the different interpretations of whether there is any injury to parents for the birth of an unexpected child, moral opinion as well as the fact that the defendant is not liable to pay all the damages for all the injury caused from his negligence. The court found that it was not only the establishment of the scope of recoverable damages that was difficult but also the benefits to be derived from the child. However, it was noted that despite this difficulty, the recovery of damages cannot be overruled as seen in University of Arizona Health Sciences Centre v. Superior Court. This founded the basis of the judgment than that the defendants were liable to pay damages that were related to the rearing of the child to the plaintiff.

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The court actually granted damages for the costs of raising the child. In this case, if the child was unhealthy, the judgment would have been different from the one given. This is because the defendants relied on this to form their motion while there was the opinion that there was no added injury to parents for the raising of a healthy child provided that they were able to do it. However, for an unhealthy child, additional costs and resources would have been incurred and the defendants being liable for negligence would be liable for the costs of ensuring the child was healthy.

Isbell v. Brighton Area Schools Case


The plaintiff was denied a course credit based on the policy of attendance of the school. This was because, during the semesters of the 1988- 89 school year which was her senior year, the plaintiff had been absent on six occasions without any excuse in all of them. She was ultimately denied a diploma. The plaintiff sued the defendant at a trial court with allegations of a tort, constitutional and contract claims and raised equitable claims. The trial court ruled that the plaintiff did not have an adequate remedy at law and hence granted that she was entitled to the equitable relief of being issued with the diploma and provided that the policy of attendance of the defendant was unreasonable. Following this judgment, the defendants filed an appeal to the court of appeals of Michigan.


The court in the analysis concentrated on the right to equitable relief to the plaintiff based on the clean hands doctrine. The main policy is that a person who seeks the aid of equity has to come in with clean hands. The definition of clean hands was established from Stachnik v Winkel in which irrespective of the improper behaviour of the defendant, the granting of equity is barred to the plaintiff for any element of inequitable or bad faith portrayed relative to the matter for which she/he seeks equity.

The doctrine of clean hands is based as Precision Instrument Mfg Co v. Automotive Maintenance Machinery Co in which the court of appeal is usually an enforcer of the good faith and conscience requirements. In this case, the plaintiff was considered to have clean hands since she had even admitted that she had forged excuse notes for her absence. Since the primary factor of consideration was whether the plaintiff had intentions of misleading or deceiving the other party, then the plaintiff could not be granted equity.

In this case, the fact the forging of excuse notes by the plaintiff was a way of not only misleading but deceiving the defendant to form an excuse for her absence and for the defendant to grant permission based on such. Hence, this was seen to contravene the requirements of good faith and consciences, hence the ruling that she could not be granted relief reversing the judgment of the trial court.


The matter for which equity was sought was based on equity. This was a result of ensuring that justice prevailed in the matter of the expectations placed for the policy of attendance and issuance of relief. This would require some actions to be performed by the parties as a resolution while the matter was concern was the warrant of relief, that is, the issuance of a diploma. The equitable maxims relied upon by the appeal court to resolve the case were that; “He who seeks equity must do equity” and the main one of “He who comes into equity must come with clean hands”.

Wilen v. Falkenstein Case


Falkenstein as a plaintiff was a neighbour to Wilen and had planted trees to his property. The growth of these trees blocked the view of Wilen, the defendant of the clubhouse from his balcony. The defendant had severally suggested to the plaintiff to have the trees trimmed to avoid the blockage of view to the extent of volunteering to pay for such costs as would be incurred. The plaintiff declined to this but years later ordered for the trimming of his trees as a way of appeasement to the defendant. A month later, while the plaintiff was on vacation, the defendant gave the authority to third parties to trim the tree that was blocking the view from his balcony.

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He denied this to the plaintiff, upon which the plaintiff filed a suit against him. The trial court ruled that actual damages of $ 5,300 and a value of $ 29,700 as attorney fees as well as exemplary damages of $ 18,000 were to be paid to the plaintiff. The defendant filed an appeal against this judgment.


In the analysis of the sufficiency of the evidence in establishing the findings of the trial court, the appeal court considered the evidence that was favorable to the finding if a reasonable fact finder could establish this as well as disregarding evidence that contradicted the findings unless a reasonable fact finder could not do this. In the matter of trespass, the defendant argued that the plaintiff failed to provide evidence factual and sufficient enough for the proof of the elements of trespass to real property. In Gen. Mills Rests., Inc. v. Tex. Wings, Inc, the court established that trespass occurs with the entering of one person to another person’s property without his/her consent.

Based on the case of Gen. Mills Rests., Inc. v. Tex. Wings, Inc, the recovery of damages by the plaintiff is achieved with the proof that he/she has rightful ownership or right to possessing the real property, that the entering of the defendant in the land was physical, voluntary and intentional and that such trespass by the defendant caused injury to him/her as in Stone Res., Inc. v. Barnett. It is not enough that the defendant did not actually enter the property, but it is deemed that he entered upon causing third parties to enter the property as in Watson v. Brazos Elec. Power Coop. In this case the defendant is liable for trespass to the property of the plaintiff since he allowed the employees of TLS Landscaping to enter the property of the plaintiff whose consent of the plaintiff was not obtained since he was on vacation.

In cases where trespass causes damages to the trees in the property, the damages that is awarded is the diminution to the land or the value of the destroyed or removed trees as in Cummer-Graham Co. v. Maddox. In cases where the destruction to the trees does not lower their market value, the damages are usually their intrinsic value as in Porras v. Craig. Since the trimming of the trees does not reduce their value, their intrinsic value is to be awarded as damages which are the value that was quoted by the trial court of $ 5,300 overruling the second issue of the defendant.

A plaintiff if liable to recover exemplary damages in trespass tort in cases where the trespass was conducted with malice by the defendant as is evidenced in Williams v. Garnett. The act of malice in the case at hand was defined to include the specific intention by the defendant to causing injury of substantial value to the plaintiff. The malice findings were found sufficient and included the actions of the use of the TLS landscaping to justify the trespass despite the fact that they had warned of the dangers of trimming the tree to which the defendant allowed while the plaintiff had expressed the right to deal with his own property.

This thus warranted the liability of exemplary damages as had been issued to the value of $18,000 which was provided to be sufficient since it is in the category of the limit of exemplary damages whose maximum is usually $ 200,000. In the establishment of the sufficiency of the value of the exemplary damages, considerations were made to the nature of the wrongful act, the code of character involved, the situation and the sensibility of the parties involved, the wrongdoer’s degree of culpability, the net worth of the defendant and the extent to which the act is offensive to justice and impropriety.

Regarding the charge error, the analysis of review was based on the issue at hand of whether the defendant has actually trespassed to which an answer of a yes or no was warranted and that the inclusion of “knowingly” would not change the actual answer. The definition of the court of trespass was consistent with other case laws and was based on the intention of assisting third parties enter another person’s property. The recovery of attorney fees requires the plaintiff to establish that there was a contractual relationship and is not usually recoverable in matters of tort. Since this was not possible, the plaintiff could not recover such and hence the defendant did not have to pay for such damages.


Exemplary damages are usually compensation offered to an aggrieved party in law for loss or injury and as a form of punishment to the aggrieving party for conduct that is malicious and wilful at the same time. A party seeking exemplary damages as a plaintiff as to prove that the tortuous act conducted by the defendant was done maliciously, that the intention was evil and did not regard the rights of the other party based on the intention of causing hurt to the other party.

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