This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
While an infant is as a general rule liable for his torts, yet if the tort is so connected with contract that without the contract no cause of action in tort could exist, the infant cannot be held in tort.1 Thus if an infant makes a fraudulent warranty of goods sold by him,2 or makes a fraudulent representation as to its ownership,3 he cannot be held liable thereon. So an infant employer cannot be held liable for damages caused by the negligence of her servant.4 So an infant cannot be held liable for his own negligence if it amounts merely to improper performance of a contract. Thus where an infant agreed to thresh certain wheat, and performed the contract in a negligent manner so that the wheat and the barn in which it was stored were burned, no recovery can be had against him for such negligence.5 If the infant by word or act repudiates the contract and is then guilty of a tort with reference to the subject-matter he is liable in damages, although the contract afforded him the means of committing the tort. Thus if an infant hires a horse for a specified journey and drives to another place,6 or drives beyond the place to which he had agreed to go,7 he is liable for any damage suffered by such horse, on the theory that he has converted it to his own use. While an infant is not liable for breach of a promise to marry,8 he is liable for seduction accomplished by means of such promise.9 So an infant caused an old man to become intoxicated and then induced him to sell a cow for the infant's note. It was held that the vendor could recover the cow in the action of trover.10
12 Braucht v. Graves-May Co., - Minn. - ; 99 N. W. 417.
1 In re Derby, Fed. Cas. 3815 (where this rule was said to apply to voluntary and involuntary proceedings alike). Apparently contra, In re Book, 3 McLean 317.
2 In re Duguid, 100 Fed. 274 (a ease of involuntary bankruptcy).
3 Belton v. Hodges, 9 Bing. 365; O'Brien v. Currie, 3 Car. & P. 283; Ex parte Layton, 6 Ves. 434; Ex parte Barwis, 6 Ves. 601.
4 Ex parte Watson, 16 Ves. 265;
Ex parte Bates, 2 Mont. D. & D. 337; In re Unity, etc., Association, 3 De Gex & J. 63.
5 Ex parte Kibble, L. R. 10 Ch. 373; Ex parte Jones, L. R. 18 Ch. Div. 109.
6 In re Soltykoff (1891), 1 Q. B. 413.
1 Burns v. Smith, 29 Ind. App. 181; 94 Am. St. Rep. 268; 64 N. E. 94; Lowery v. Cate, 108 Tenn. 54; 91 Am. St. Rep. 744; 57 L. R. A. 673; 64 S. W. 1068; West v. Moore, 14 Vt. 447; 39 Am. Dec. 235.
2 Morrill v. Aden, 19 Vt. 505.
3 Doran v. Smith, 49 Vt. 353.
4 Burns v. Smith, 29 Ind. App. 181; 94 Am. St. Rep. 268; 64 N. E. 94.
5 Lowery v. Cate, 108 Tenn. 54; 91 Am. St. Rep. 744; 57 L. R. A. 673; 64 S. W. 1068.
6 Churchill v. White, 58 Neb. 22; 76 Am. St. Rep. 64; 78 N. W. 369.
7 Homer v. Thwing, 3 Pick. (Mass.) 492; Freeman v. Boland, 14 R. I. 39; 51 Am. Rep. 340; Towne v. Wiley, 23 Vt. 355; 56 Am. Dec. 85; Ray v. Tubbs, 50 Vt. 688; 28 Am. Rep. 519.
8 See Sec. 861.
9 Hawk v. Harris, 112 Ia. 543; 84 Am. St. Rep. 352; 84 N. W. 664. Suit by parent. Fry v. Leslie, 87 Va. 269; 12 S. E. 671. By the woman who was seduced. Becker v. Mason, 93 Mich. 336; 53 N. W. 361.
10 Walker v. Davis, 1 Gray (Mass.) 506.