Van Camp v. McAfoos
261 Iowa 1124, 156 N.W.2d 878 (1968)

  • McAfoos was driving a tricycle down a public sidewalk and ran over Van Camp, injuring her leg. Surgery was required.
    • McAfoos’ actions were the direct and proximate cause of Van Camp’s injury.
    • McAfoos was only 3 years old when the accident occurred (which explains the tricycle).
  • The Trial Court upheld McAfoos’ motion to dismiss. Van Camp appealed.
    • McAfoos was not found to be negligent because he was too young to have the capacity to act in a non-negligent manner.
    • McAfoos was not found to have acted in a willful or malicious manner.
  • Appellate Court affirmed the motion to dismiss.
    • Van Camp unsuccessfully argued that there are categories of tort liability other than negligence.
      • Van Camp claimed that, “a person has the right to not be injuriously touched as she lawfully uses a public sidewalk.”
      • Without willful action or negligence on the part of the defendant, there is no cause for action that would allow for recovery as a tort claim.
        • Unlike Contract Law, in Tort Law, there is no strict liability. There can’t be liability without fault.
          • Although, Van Camp wasn’t at fault either, why should she bear all the liability for the accident?
      • Historically, you used to be able to recover under strict liability, but under modern tort law, there must be fault. There are a few exceptions though. For example, product liability is still usually considered a strict liability issue.