Wildeboar v. Petersen, No. 31026.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtGAYNOR
Citation182 Iowa 1185,166 N.W. 464
Docket NumberNo. 31026.
Decision Date16 February 1918
PartiesWILDEBOAR v. PETERSEN.

182 Iowa 1185
166 N.W. 464

WILDEBOAR
v.
PETERSEN.

No. 31026.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Feb. 16, 1918.


Appeal from District Court, Tama County; James W. Willett, Judge.

Action to recover damages for forcible defilement. Judgment for the plaintiff in the court below. Defendant appeals. Opinion states the facts. Reversed, and new trial ordered.

[166 N.W. 464]

Thomas & Thomas, of Traer, for appellant.

J. H. Scales, of Ackley, R. P. Kepler, of Toledo, and C. A. Pratt, of Traer, for appellee.


GAYNOR, J.

This action is brought to recover damages based on the alleged forcible defilement of the plaintiff by the defendant. The plaintiff in her petition, after having alleged the facts upon which she predicates her right to recover, says that because of the defilement and as a natural consequence thereof she gave birth to a child, to her great injury, and further as a proximate result of said defilement, she became sick and sore and sustained injury to her person, health, reputation, and feelings, suffered great humiliation and sorrow, to her damage in the sum of $15,000, and a further sum of $200 which she was compelled thereby to pay for medicine, medical treatment, and nursing.

The cause was tried to a jury, and a verdict returned for the plaintiff in the sum of $5,150. The jury at the time it returned its verdict returned also answers to special interrogatories submitted by the court as follows:

“Q. Is plaintiff entitled to actual damages? A. Yes. Q. If you state that plaintiff is entitled to actual damages, state the amount of actual damages which she is entitled to. A. $150. Q. Is plaintiff entitled to exemplary damages in this case? A. Yes. Q. How much do you allow as exemplary damages? A. $5,000.”

[1] It is the contention of the defendant that the amount of exemplary damages allowed is so disproportioned to the amount of actual damages assessed that the verdict ought not to stand as returned. This we think must be sustained. In holding this we do not enter into a discussion of the sufficiency of the evidence to justify the jury's finding as to the actual damages sustained.

It is true the amount of exemplary damages allowed in any particular case rests in the sound discretion of the jury. In the exercise of this discretion the jury cannot be allowed to assess exemplary damages grossly disproportioned to the amount of actual damages found by the jury. The actual expenses, as shown by this record, sustained by the plaintiff were $57.05 for her doctor's bill, and $16 for the services of an undertaker in burying the child. It appears that the child died soon after its birth. It will be noted that the plaintiff in her petition claimed $200 on account of this matter.

It is apparent that the jury was misled in assessing actual damages, but we have no way of knowing just how much the jury would have assessed had the court not placed a maximum limit on the amount it could assess as actual damages.

The court in its fifteenth instruction, given as a guide to the jury as to what might be considered in determining and fixing the amount which plaintiff was entitled to recover as actual damage, after reciting her claim, said in substance:

“You are instructed that the plaintiff is entitled to compensatory or actual damages, * * *...

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10 practice notes
  • Amos v. Prom, Civ. No. 571.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 30, 1953
    ...Brause, 1920, 190 Iowa 329, 177 N.W. 65; Stricklen v. Pearson Const. Co., 1918, 185 Iowa 95, 169 N.W. 628; Wildeboar v. Petersen, 1918, 182 Iowa 1185, 166 N.W. 464, reversed where $5,000 exemplary damages and $150 compensatory damages; Soesbe v. Lines, 1917, 180 115 F. Supp. 132 Iowa 943, 1......
  • Vowles v. Yakish, No. 32668.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 4, 1920
    ...the court authorized the allowance of both actual and exemplary damages, it cannot be sustained. Wildeboer v. Petersen, 182 Iowa, 1185, 166 N. W. 464;Cain v. Osler, 168 Iowa, 59, 150 N. W. 17, Ann. Cas. 1918C, 1126;Ahrens v. Fenton, 138 Iowa, 559, 115 N. W. 233;Walthan Co. v. Freeman, 159 I......
  • Bankers Life & Casualty Company v. Kirtley, No. 16930.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • August 24, 1962
    ...Vowles v. Yakish, 191 Iowa 368, 179 N.W. 117, 13 A.L.R. 1132 (defamation, $5000, likely mostly exemplary); Wildeboar v. Petersen, 182 Iowa 1185, 166 N.W. 464 (rape, $150 actual, $5000 exemplary); Manning v. Meade, 180 Iowa 932, 164 N.W. 113 (defamation, $2500, likely largely exemplary); Jol......
  • Reinwaldt v. Hulsebus, No. 33683.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 9, 1922
    ...v. Bettendorf, 171 Iowa, 221, 153 N. W. 1005;Reynolds v. McManus, 139 Iowa, 244, 117 N. W. 667;Wildehoer v. Petersen, 182 Iowa, 1188, 166 N. W. 464;Sadler v. Bean, 38 Iowa, 684;Saunders v. Mullen, 66 Iowa, 728, 24 N. W. 529. We shall not review these cases. In some of them the award was cle......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • Amos v. Prom, Civ. No. 571.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 30, 1953
    ...Brause, 1920, 190 Iowa 329, 177 N.W. 65; Stricklen v. Pearson Const. Co., 1918, 185 Iowa 95, 169 N.W. 628; Wildeboar v. Petersen, 1918, 182 Iowa 1185, 166 N.W. 464, reversed where $5,000 exemplary damages and $150 compensatory damages; Soesbe v. Lines, 1917, 180 115 F. Supp. 132 Iowa 943, 1......
  • Vowles v. Yakish, No. 32668.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 4, 1920
    ...the court authorized the allowance of both actual and exemplary damages, it cannot be sustained. Wildeboer v. Petersen, 182 Iowa, 1185, 166 N. W. 464;Cain v. Osler, 168 Iowa, 59, 150 N. W. 17, Ann. Cas. 1918C, 1126;Ahrens v. Fenton, 138 Iowa, 559, 115 N. W. 233;Walthan Co. v. Freeman, 159 I......
  • Bankers Life & Casualty Company v. Kirtley, No. 16930.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • August 24, 1962
    ...Vowles v. Yakish, 191 Iowa 368, 179 N.W. 117, 13 A.L.R. 1132 (defamation, $5000, likely mostly exemplary); Wildeboar v. Petersen, 182 Iowa 1185, 166 N.W. 464 (rape, $150 actual, $5000 exemplary); Manning v. Meade, 180 Iowa 932, 164 N.W. 113 (defamation, $2500, likely largely exemplary); Jol......
  • Reinwaldt v. Hulsebus, No. 33683.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 9, 1922
    ...v. Bettendorf, 171 Iowa, 221, 153 N. W. 1005;Reynolds v. McManus, 139 Iowa, 244, 117 N. W. 667;Wildehoer v. Petersen, 182 Iowa, 1188, 166 N. W. 464;Sadler v. Bean, 38 Iowa, 684;Saunders v. Mullen, 66 Iowa, 728, 24 N. W. 529. We shall not review these cases. In some of them the award was cle......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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