Monday, March 4, 2013

Word of the Month for March 2013: Intent

Just say you're sorryRecently, my, now three-year-old, daughter has begun to say, "I'm sorry" whenever something happens.  She drops something, "I'm sorry."  She spills something, "I'm sorry."  Toys all over the place, "I'm sorry."  Doesn't matter how many times we say it's ok, no problem, it's always, "I'm sorry."  Don't know where she got this but funny how it dissolves the situation.  A three-year-old taking responsibility.  How many problems in the world would be eliminated if adults had the same perspective - specifically, to take responsibility for their actions.  Shoot someone, "I'm sorry."  Rob a bank, "I'm sorry."  Lie on the campaign trail, "I'm sorry."

Of course, all of this leads up to our word for the month of March 2013 which is INTENT.  According to Black's Law Dictionary, intent is the state of mind accompanying an act; intent is the mental resolution or determination to do an act.  In the case of my three-year-old, I seriously doubt she intended to do wrong when she spilled the milk; it just happened.  But some acts are out and out intentional.

Pull the chair from ounder them trickTo elucidate this concept, the other day a rather vivacious young woman came up to me.  Seems she had a young son of about 10 years of age.  Seems young son was at a party and as the birthday boy was sitting down, her son pulled the chair out from under him and party boy fell breaking his coccyx.  Now party boy's parents were seeking to sue this young woman's son for a variety of causes of action including battery.

The reason I mention any of this is because Battery is an intentional act and carries come hefty damages if proven.  So, theyoung lady's question was, does the act of pulling out a chair equate to an intentional act?  To help her answer it, I directed her over to California Jurispridence (West) and suggested she look under Battery.  I also suggested she take a look at California Forms of Pleading and Practice (Lexis) as well as California Civil Practice: Torts (West), California Affirmative Defenses (West), and the Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (Lexis) to look at how she might defend against this potentially expensive lawsuit.  Sad to say, this young lady was looking at an uphill battle and while I suspect a simple "I'm sorry" might not have immediately fixed the problem, it might have gone a long way to assuage the angst of party boy's parents.

So, whether you're looking at suing or being sued, know that your local county law library is open and waiting to help you in your hour of need.