Pleading and Proving Intent, State of Mind
Some claims require proof of a person’s intent and state of mind. Unless someone admits to something, how do you get in there head and prove intent?
For pleading purposes, “intent, knowledge and any other condition of mind of a person may be averred generally.” Rule 55.15. In an evidentiary context, “an admission of specific intent is not the only way to show intent to cause harm; it can be inferred from facts and circumstances surrounding an act.” Truck Ins. Exchange v. Pickering, 642 S.W.2d 113, 116 (Mo. App. W.D. 1982). Stated differently, it is often determinable through “logical deduction from proven facts.” Robinson v. Powers, 777 S.W.2d 675, 679 (Mo. App. S.D. 1989). Because few people, particularly defendants, will admit that they acted improperly, a judge/jury must usually rely upon circumstantial evidence. No one, for example, admits to fraud. It is proven by established facts and circumstances.
A party’s intent is almost always inherently a fact question necessitating a trial.