Hudson v. Craft

33 Cal.2d 654 (1949).

One-Sentence Takeaway: Consent is not a defense to an illegal act which is prohibited for the protection of a particular class.

Summary: The plaintiff sued a boxing promoter for injuries suffered during a boxing match at a carnival.  The trial court sustained defendant’s demurrer based on its finding that plaintiff had consented to the boxing contest.

The California Supreme Court reversed and held that the promoter could be held liable for assault and battery because he did not hold the proper license for a boxing promoter and because he “violated the statutory provisions” for prize fights and boxing matches as well as the rules of the State Athletic Commission for such matches.

The court noted that the legislation at issue in the case was unique and based on an “unusually strong policy, obviously resting upon a detailed study of the problems relative to boxing matches.”  The court also noted that it was stating “a general rule inasmuch as each situation must have individual consideration.” Finally, the plaintiff’s claim against the promoter was based on the allegation that the promoter “wholly disregarded the prize fight and boxing regulations,” and not simply on his lack of a promoter’s license.


Doe 1 v. Hubbs, Cal. App. No. A143158 (Sept. 25, 2018):

Civil Code section 3515 sets forth the general rule that “He who consents to an act is not wronged by it.” “Consent ordinarily bars recovery for intentional interferences with person or property. It is not, strictly speaking, a privilege, or even a defense, but goes to negative the existence of any tort in the first instance.”  However, consent is not a defense to an illegal act which is prohibited for the protection of a particular class. (Hudson v. Craft (1949) 33 Cal.2d 654, 657.) In Hudson, the Supreme Court held that consent is not a defense to a civil action arising out of alleged violations of the Penal Code and Business and Professions Code relating to boxing exhibitions.  The court applied section 61 of the Restatement of Torts, which provides: “`Where it is a crime to inflict a particular invasion of interest of personality upon a particular class of persons, irrespective of their assent, and the policy of the law is primarily to protect the interests of such a class of persons from their inability to appreciate the consequences of such an invasion, and it is not solely to protect the interests of the public, the assent of such a person to such an invasion is not a consent thereto.'”   The court reasoned that because “one of the main purposes of the statutes is to protect a class (combatants) of which plaintiff is a member,” the defenses of consent and assumption to risk are inapplicable.

Hall v. Shamrock, Cal. App. No. D046000 (March 10, 2006):

In Hudson vCraft (194933 Cal.2d 654, the Supreme Court noted that from its beginning California “has taken an uncompromising stand against uncontrolled prize fights and boxing matches.”  It noted Penal Code section 412 “goes into detail prohibiting prize fights and boxing matches or exhibitions and reaches all persons connected therewith.” Subsequent to the passage of the 1914 initiative that resulted in Penal Code section 412’s current version, another initiative was passed (in 1924) adopting statutory provisions (i.e., Bus. & Prof.Code, §§ 18600-18782) that created a state athletic commission with the power to supervise and regulate boxing and prize fighting.   “Conduct of matches without a license [issued by the commission] is a misdemeanor Hudson noted the statutory provisions “evince an unusually strong policy” and one purpose “is to provide safeguards for the protection of persons engaging in the activity.”  “[C]ontestants are protected against their own ill-advised participation in an unregulated match.” Because the plaintiff, a contestant in an unlicensed boxing match conducted at a carnival, alleged the defendant promoters wholly disregarded the commission’s prize fight and boxing regulations and violated Penal Code section 412, Hudson reversed an order sustaining the defendants’ demurrer to the plaintiff’s personal injury action.

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