A man must pay the medical bills of the man he was convicted of stabbing during a drug deal, Wyoming’s Supreme Court has ruled.
The court unanimously upheld an order for Alexander Vincent Ray Cave to pay more than $63,000 in restitution to the man he stabbed, rejecting his arguments that the victim was partially responsible for his own injuries.
Cave was arrested in Sweetwater County in January 2020 in connection with the stabbing of Rafael Magana.
The ruling said Magana was stabbed five times “during a drug transaction,” was treated at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County and billed $74,678 for his treatment.
The state’s Division of Victim Services paid almost $11,250 of the bill. When Cave pleaded “no contest” to a charge of aggravated assault and battery in the incident, he was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $63,428 in restitution to Magana.
Cave appealed, saying the district court should have reduced the amount he was ordered to pay because Magana was responsible in part for his own injuries.
“(Cave argued) the court should consider Mr. Magana’s comparative fault in that he actively participated in a drug transaction where bodily harm can occur,” the ruling said.
But the Supreme Court, in the opinion written by Justice Keith Kautz, said the idea that a person can be partially responsible for his or her own injuries does not apply when another person has been convicted of intentional criminal activity that caused the victim’s injuries.
“In this case, Mr. Cave pled no contest to assault and battery, an intentional tort,” the ruling said. “We conclude it would be against public policy to allow an intentional tortfeasor like Mr. Cave to ‘escape liability for his wrongful conduct by shifting the responsibility to (his) victim.”