Can a Criminally Insane Person Be Liable In a Civil Suit ?

In McIntyre v. Sholty, 121 Ill. 660, 664, 13 N.E. 239, 240 (1887), the supreme court held an insane defendant who is not criminally liable may still be liable in a civil suit for torts he committed. As a matter of policy, the court reasoned those injured by a lunatic's actions would suffer more injustice if denied compensation than the estate of the insane individual would suffer by compensating his victims. McIntyre, 121 Ill. at 664, 13 N.E. at 240. Additionally, the court observed civil liability for a mentally incompetent individual's torts promotes better custody and guardianship practices for the mentally ill. McIntyre, 121 Ill. at 664-65, 13 N.E. at 240. Further, a rule to the contrary poses the risk of defendants simulating insanity to avoid liability for their torts. McIntyre, 121 Ill. at 665, 13 N.E. at 240.