Mohr v. Williams

Procedural History

–          Jury found for the plaintiff in the amount of $14,322.50.

–          Trial judge granted a motion for the damages were too high.

–          Both parties appealed.


–          Mohr (Plaintiff) consulted Williams (Defendant) who was an ear specialist concerning trouble with her right ear.  D said it had to be operated on, but when she was knocked out, he didn’t operate on the right ear (because it wasn’t that bad).  He operated on the left ear which needed the operation.

–          The operation was successful, and it made ear completely fine.

–          P sued for battery – because she only consented to the operation on her right ear, not her left.

–          D states that the left ear was dangerously infected and that the operation was necessary. D is skillful in that field and when the P requested a very similar operation, it did not amount to battery…


Was the operation on the left ear an assault and battery?




Every person has the right to complete immunity of his person from physical interference of others except in so far as contact may been necessary under the general doctrine of privilege; and any unlawful or unauthorized touching of the person of another, except it be in the spirit of pleasantry, constitutes and assault and battery…

Courts Reasoning

–          Doctor does not have free reign to operate at will.

–          The diseased condition of the plaintiff’s left ear was not discovered in the course of the operation on the right ear, which was authorized, but upon an independent examination of that organ (left ear), made after the authorized operation was found unnecessary…

–          She did not give express consent to operate on her left ear…

–          If it was unauthorized, then it was unlawful.

–          In tort law, unlike criminal law, you don’t need an evil intent to commit battery.  In this case, the intent was not evil.  However, it was not a mere pleasantry, it was a violent assault…



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