Guilty plea does not assure civil liabilityIn an interesting case apparently involving drunks fighting outside a tavern, the Defendant's prior guilty plea to an illegal battery did not preclude him from defending a civil claim brought by the injury victim.
In Klein v. Shamrock Tavern, et al., we saw another example of bad facts creating bad law. There has been a trend in the Courts to allow injury victims to utilize a prior guilty plea by the wrongdoer to prove a civil wrong. We utilized that trend to avoid the expense of proving liability in a wrongful death case involving a local police officer. I
Klein, however, involved a situation clouded by allegations of racism on the part of the "victim" and the possibility that the wrongdoer was acting to protect his wife. The Court felt constrained to allow the Defendant to go beyond his plea of guilt to an illegal battery and to defend the civil claim for causing injury to the other drunk.