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University of Connecticut School of Law
Laplante, Lisa J.

Torts Outline
UConn Law Fall 2011
I)       Goals of Tort Law
A)    compensation
(1)   making a plaintiff whole
B)    deterrence
C)    resolving dispute
D)    conveying community norms and values
E)     punishment of wrongdoers
II)    Categories of Torts
A)    Intentional torts
(1)   D intentionally injured P
B)    Negligence/Recklessness (Unintentional torts)
(1)   D did not mean to do anything that the law prohibits, but failed to act as carefully as the law requires
C)    Strict liability
(1)   D acted carefully and had no intent to injure P
I)       Introduction
A)    Functions of Tort law
(1)   tort doctrines express society’s standards for what types of conduct are acceptable and what kinds of effects one actor may impose on another
B)    Types of intentional torts
(1)   battery
(2)   assault
(3)   intentional infliction of emotional distress
II)    Battery
A)    intentional tort doctrines protect a person from having someone interfere with that person’s recognized legal interests
(1)   legal interest = right or privilege that the law protects
(2)   intentional tort of battery protects a person’s bodily integrity/the right to be free from intentionally inflicted contact that is harmful/offensive
B)    Intent to Contact
(1)   Act requirement
(a)    Intends to cause harmful or offensive contact with another or an imminent apprehension of the contact and contact directly or indirectly results.
(b)   Restatement
(i)     an actor is subject to liability to another for battery if
1.      he acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with a person of the other or to cause an imminent apprehension of such a contact
2.      a harmful contact with a person of the other indirectly or directly occurs
(2)   Intent requirement
(a)    intent denotes that the actor desires to cause consequences of his act, or that he believes that the consequences are substantially certain to result from it (Restatement)
(b)   for battery: P must establish that D intended to cause a contact that is harmful/offensive
(i)     may be shown by demonstrating that the actor
1.      desired the harmful/offensive contact
2.      believed that the harmful/offensive contact was substantially certain to result
(3)   Waters v. Blackshear
(a)    kid put firecracker in other kid’s shoe, not negligence as claimed b/c D’s conduct was clearly a battery
(i)     negligent conduct cannot be intentional conduct
(ii)   “to constitute battery, the actor must have intended to bring about a harmful or offensive contact or put the other party in apprehension thereof.  A result is intended if the act is done for the purpose of accomplishing the result or with knowledge that to a substantial certainty such a result will ensue”
(4)   Polmatier v. Russ
(a)    Wrongful death suit; D killed father in law, said he was insane so could not make a rational decision and actions were not intended
(i)     argued that b/c his activities were the external manifestations of irrational and uncontrollable thought disorders, these activities cannot be acts; rejected b/c rationality not required, only intent to invade the interests of another even if insane/irrational
(b)   not essential that the precise injury that was done be the one intended for battery
C)    Intending Contact that is Harmful
(1)   Nelson v. Carroll
(a)    Guy trying to collect debt intends to hit debtor with pistol, accidentally shoots him
(i)     D’s liability for resulting harm extends to consequences which D did not intend and could not reasonable have foreseen
(ii)   intent element does not require specific desire to bring about a certain result, but general intent to unlawfully invade another’s physical wellbeing through harmful/offensive contact or apprehension of such a contact
(2)   Injury and Harm
(a)    Injury = the invasion of any legally protected interest of another
(b)   Harm = the existence of loss/detriment in fact of any kind to a person
(c)    injury causes harm if the injury actually has a detrimental effect on the plaintiff
D)    Intending Contact that is Offensive
(1)   Leichtman v. WLW Jacor Communications, Inc.
(a)    radio talk show host blowing cigar smoke in guest’s face, guest was activist against smoking
(b)   Battery is actionable regardless of triviality of offense, as long as it is reasonably offensive to the person to whom the action is done
(c)    offensive contact
(i)     offensive to a reasonable sense of personal dignity OR
(ii)   disagreeable or nauseating or painful because of outrage to taste and sensibilities or affronting insultingness
(2)   Andrews v. Peters
(a)    Coworker taps back of knee, coworker falls and is injured
(i)     argued he didn’t intend to injure, but because he intended to contact, his conduct is still a battery
(b)   bodily contact is offensive if it offense a reasonable sense of dignity
(i)     ordinary person standard (objective test)
1.      would offend the ordinary person, and as such one not unduly sensitive as to his personal dignity; a contact which is unwarranted by the social usages prevalent at the time/place at which it is inflicted
(ii)   what the D knew/desired (subjective test)
1.      for battery, D desired to contact P/substantially certain that a contact would occur as a result of D’s act
E)    Dual Intent
(1)   single prong or double prong?
(a)    intent to contact is single prong
(b)   intent to contact plus appreciation that contact is harmful/offensive is double prong
(i)     White v. Muniz
1.      elderly woman in nursing home punches attending nurse during attempt at care
(ii)   dual or single intent depends on jurisdiction
F)     Damages for Intentional Torts
(1)   compensatory damages
(a)    awards for harms suffered
(2)   punitive damages
(a)    punish the D; awarded when D is malicious
(3)   nominal damages
(a)    when P has suffered injury but no harm
(b)   Taylor v. Barwick
(i)     prison guard allegedly poked prisoner with stick, but no actual injury
(ii)   no actual injury is necessary to prove battery
1.      de minimis [non curat lex] = doctrine that the law will not involve itself in trifling invasions of others’ interests
III) Assault
A)    Protects one’s interest in being free from the apprehension of imminent harmful/offensive contact
(1)   a single act can be both assault and battery
B)    Intending Apprehension of Imminent Contact
(1)   Elements of assault (Restatement):
(a)    An actor is subject to liability to another for assault if
(i)     he acts intending to cause a harmful/offensive contact w/ the person of the other, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact, and
(ii)   the other is thereby put in such imminent apprehension
(2)   intending apprehension of imminent contact is assault
(a)    mental contact; touching of the minds
(b)   apprehension must be reasonably aroused, mental peace invaded
(3)   Cullison v. M

e threatened harm to that interest, and the actual amount of force used by the actor
(5)   Statutes in states can have very different standards
(a)    Ex: Florida statute much more lenient
(b)   different requirements about ability to retreat as necessary
(i)     Restatement says if someone can retreat they should (unless attacked in a dwelling place)
C)    Defense of Land and Personal Property
(1)   Proportionality still important
(a)    Restatement §77 = an actor is privileged to use reasonable force, not intended/likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, to prevent/terminate another’s intrusion upon the actor’s land or chattels, if
(i)     the intrusion is not privileged or the other intentionally or negligently causes the actor to believe that it is not privileged, and
(ii)   the actor reasonably believes that the intrusion can be prevented/terminated only by the force used, and
(iii) the actor has first requested the other to desist and the other has disregarded the request, or the actor reasonable believes that a request will be useless/that substantial harm will be done before it can be made
(b)   the law values human life more than possessions, so less justification for use of deadly force
(c)      Woodard v. Turnipseed
(i)     farmer beat a boy who had been fired from the farm and wouldn’t leave the property when farmer asked
(2)   Statutes vary by state, require different levels of limitations on acceptable force
(a)    Utah
(i)     force is justified in defense of property
1.      must be lawfully in ownership
a.       of person
b.      or family member of person
(b)   North Dakota
(i)     force justified if
1.      request is made to desist
2.      unless it would be dangerous, useless or damage would already be done before the request could be made.
(c)    New Jersey
(i)     deadly force not justifiable unless
1.      attempt to dispossess one of property
2.      attempt to commit arson, burglary, robbery or other criminal theft or property destruction
3.      belief deadly force has been or will be used
4.      use of other kind of force will endanger self or others
V)    Infliction of Emotional Distress
A)    Outrageousness
(1)   protects a person’s right to be free from serious emotional distress; aka Tort of Outrageous Conduct
(2)   Courts use objective test to determine whether conduct is outrageous; based on a typical community member’s assessment of the challenged conduct
(a)    Restatement §44: the distress must be reasonable and justified under the circumstances, and there is no liability where P has suffered exaggerated and unreasonable emotional distress (unless it results from a peculiar susceptibility to such distress of which the actor has knowledge)
(b)   would lead member of community to exclaim “Outrageous!”