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Torts
Temple University School of Law
Sperino, Sandra F.

TORTS OUTLINE
INTRODUCTION
I.                    Nature of Tort Law
A.      Simplified Definition- A civil wrong not arising out of contract
1.Not contractual- unlike contract law, tort law is not based on the usual idea of consent, rather every member of society is held liable for certain behaviors with or without consent
2.Purpose- the overall purpose for torts is to compensate plaintiff’s for unreasonable harm
1.       Societal standard-
 
INTENTIONAL TORTS AGAISNT THE PERSON
I.                    Intent Defined
A.      Generally- one must intend to create some type of physical or mental effect upon another person (not necessarily harmful)
B.      Substantial Certainty- a different type of intent where the person doesn’t desire to bring about the effect, but knew with substantial certainty that it would occur as a result of their action (Garratt v. Dailey)
1.Less than substantial certainty- anything short of substantial certainty (i.e. highly likely) is not sufficient for intent
a.       Act distinguished from consequences- the act must be intentional or substantially certain, but not the consequences (i.e. glass jaw)
C.      No intent to harm necessary
1.Ignorance of the law no excuse
2.Lunatics are liable for their torts
D.      Transferred Intent- intent may be transferred from one person to another and also from one tort to another (Talmadege v. Smith,)
II.                  Significance of Intent
A.      Nominal Damages- if intent found, court may award nominal damages even if P suffered no harm
B.      Punitive Damages- intentional tort victims may be awarded punitive damages if the D’s conduct was outrageous or malicious
C.      Scope of Liability- negligence tortfeasors generally only held liable for foreseeable consequences; intentional tortfeasors held liable for anything that ensues
III.                Battery
A.      Definition- intentional infliction of a harmful or offensive bodily contact
1.Intent- must only intend the contact (malice not required)
B.      Harmful or offensive contact- non-harmful contact is also batter, offensive contact (damaging to a reasonable sense of dignity) is also battery (Mohr v. Williams)
C.      Reasonableness standard for offensive contact- it is not important of the actual P felt the contact was offensive instead, the standard is whether “an ordinary person not unduly sensitive as to his dignity would have been offended”
1.Ordinary and reasonable contacts- crowded world idea allows for some contact (Wallace v. Rosen, Spivey v. Battaglia)
D.      Extends to personal effects- a battery may be committed not only by a contact with a person’s body but also anything closely identified with their body (clothes, objects in hand, Fisher v. Carrousel)
1.Indirect contact- not necessary for defendant to touch plaintiff with their own body, setting in motion things that will do it are sufficient (setting dogs)
E.       Plaintiff’s awareness of contact is not necessary (sleeping beauty)
F.       Unforeseen consequences- after intent is established D is liable for any consequences which follow, regardless of intent for them or foreseeability
IV.                Assault
A.      Definition- assault is the intentional causing of an apprehensions of harmful or offensive contact
1.Purpose- to protect a person’s interest in freedom from apprehension of contact (mental tranquility)
B.      Intent- D must have intended to cause the apprehension of contact, or intended to cause the contact itself
1.No hostility required
2.Doctrine of transferred intent applies
C.      “Words alone” rule- many states hold that words alone are not sufficient for assault; in order to be assault they need to be accompanied by an overt act that adds to the threatening character
1.Words may negate assault- “if you weren’t my best friend I’d punch you in the mouth” while waving fists, words negate the assault
D.      Imminence of threatened contact- harm must be imminent
1.Future threats of harm cannot constitute assault
2.Present ability to commit harm- assaulter must have what appears to the plaintiff to be the present ability to commit the threatened contact (Western Union v. Hill)
E.       Plaintiff must be aware of threatened contact- purpose of assault is to protect mental tranquility
F.       Apprehension is not same as fear- person does not need to fear the contact, person need only believe that if the

4.Assertion of legal authority- false imprisonment may be applicable even if defendant asserts legal authority, even if defendant doesn’t have legal authority, as long as the plaintiff reasonably believes that they do
a.       Validity of asserted authority- even if the detainer has legal authority, there will still be false imprisonment, but the defendant may have a defense for it
                                                                                                         i.            Must be for stated offense- the arrest, however, must be for the offense the arresting officer says it is for (Enright v. Groves)
E.       Duty to aid in escape or release- if plaintiff initially consents to the confinement, but then the defendant does not release them at their will, there will be false imprisonment
F.       Necessity that plaintiff know of confinement- usually plaintiff must be aware of his confinement
1.2nd Restatement view- “holds that either the plaintiff must be aware of the confinement, or he must suffer some actual harm
2.Remembrance not required- awareness at the time of confinement is sufficient, even if the plaintiff doesn’t remember the confinement (Parvi v. City of Kingston)
G.     Damages- plaintiff may recover nominal damages even if no actual harm is done
VI.                Infliction of Mental Distress
A.      Definition- the intentional or reckless infliction, by extreme and outrageous conduct, of severe or mental distress, even in the absence of physical harm
B.      Intent- plaintiff may recover if they can show that the defendant either intended to cause the emotional distress, knew with substantial certainty that it would occur, or acted recklessly
1.Transferred Intent- not generally applicable to IIED