The Thin Skull Rule, also known as Eggshell Skull Doctrine states that the unexpected vulnerability of an injured person is not a valid defense to the seriousness of any injury caused to them.

In the Derek Chauvin trial regarding the death of George Floyd, the defense argues that the levels of fentanyl in George Floyd's blood contributed to the hypoxia of which he died.

If it is true that the fentanyl was a contributing factor, would this be a valid argument, or would the drug intoxication be considered a pre-existing condition, therefore applying the Thin Skull Rule?

1 Answer 1


The Thin Skull Rule is a doctrine of tort law in a lawsuit to recover damages.

The Derek Chauvin trial regarding the death of George Floyd is a criminal trial, and so the Thin Skull Rule is not applicable. The issues are causation and intent within the meaning of the relevant state criminal statute.

  • 4
    In E&W, the Egg Shell Skull Rule is applicable in criminal law when considering causation and intervening acts, the most commonly cited case is R v Hayward (1908)
    – user35069
    Commented Apr 12, 2021 at 23:50
  • 4
    @RockAge Fair. Not sure you'd get the same result in most U.S. states.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 0:59

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