Juarez-Martinez v. Deans

424 S.E.2d 154 (1993)


D employed P as a migrant farm worker. On the afternoon of 15 July, 1988 D admitted being angry because P was not working. He entered plaintiff's residence holding an eight-inch steel tractor hitch pin in his hand. D called P's name several times but received no response. D then entered the bedroom where P was sleeping, picked up a bottle containing some beer from the bedside table and poured some of the beer on P's face. P claimed that D hit him repeatedly with the metal pin, resulting in bleeding and a lot of pain. D asserts that he sprinkled some beer on P's face and P jumped up from the bed and P attacked him, throwing him to the floor and causing him to fear for his own safety. D struck P with the metal pin until he was able to free himself and escape. P got D arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. D was found not guilty of this charge. P then filed a civil action and D asserted the defenses of affray and self-defense and made counterclaims for compensatory and punitive damages for assault and malicious prosecution. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of P on D's counterclaim of malicious prosecution. The trial court also granted P's motion for a directed verdict on the issue of self-defense and D's counterclaim for assault. The jury returned a verdict for P for $20,000 in actual damages and $30,000 in punitive damages. After judgment was entered, the trial court denied D's motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and a new trial. D appealed.