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University of Illinois School of Law
Robbennolt, Jennifer K.

Torts Outline

Robennolt 2012

Intentional Torts

· General Form of Rule:

o Conduct

o Intentionally

o Causing

o Harm to another (distinguished based on the type of harm, ex)battery)

Intent Test (used for all intentional torts)

o Desire to cause the consequences of the act or

o Belief that the consequences are substantially certain to result from it


Restatement of Torts 2D

-An actor is subject to liability to another for battery if

· He acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with another person of another or a third person, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact, and

· A harmful [offensive] contact with the person of the other directly or indirectly results

· Harmful Contact

o Any physical impairment of the condition of another’s body, or physical pain or illness (Restatement 15)

· Offensive Contact

o Contact that offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity

o NOT enough that there is offensive CONDUCT (aka just yelling at someone even if the intent is to offend)

o In order that a contact be offensive to a reasonable sense of personal dignity, it must be one which would offend the ordinary person and as such one not unduly sensitive as to his personal dignity. It must, therefore, be a contact which is unwarranted by the social usages prevalent at the time and place at which it is inflicted. (Restatement)

o (Broska v Olson): HIV case, held to a reasonable standard, court found that contact with the dentist would not offend a reasonable person

-We care about the subjective state of mind of the actor at the time, what they knew and intended (Garret v Daily) .The P has the burden of convincing what he thought/knew at the time.

Trespass to Chattel

-Trespass to Chattel: Conduct intentionally intermeddling with a good of another causing actual harm

· Intent is the intent to act on the good

· Must cause actual harm

· No nominal damages, there actually needs to be harm (petting someone’s dog is not trespass to chattel)

-Mistake will not negate a trespass to chattel (Ranson v Kitner dog shooting case)

-Conversion: conduct intentionally causing another to be deprived of dominion over his or her chattel/good.

· Intent is to exercise control over the goods

· Concerned with dominion over the goods

· Damages are the FULL value of the chattel: in essence a forced sale of the property

· More serious

Intel Corp case: involved a trespass within a computer system. Question is if there could be trespass to chattel without actual physical harm or damage to the chattel.

What can P show as actual harm besides physical harm to the chattel?

· Deprivation of use counts as actual

· Dispossession counts as actual harm

Transferred Intent

-can transfer both between people AND between the five intentional torts


· Does not include intentional infliction of emotional distress

· More of the transfers of intent have to do with assault and battery

· False imprisonment, battery, assault, trespass to land, trespass to chattel

· You need to have the intent to do one of these things, or you don’t have anything to transfer

-Talmage v Smith: (man injured a different trespasser on his property than he intended to) court found transferred intent, still liable.


An actor is subject to liability for assault if

a. He acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with the person of the other or a third person, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact, and

b. The other is thereby put in such imminent apprehension.

-still a subjective standard for intent, we care about what the person intended (Western Union Telegraph Co, sexual assault from behind a counter, question was if he could have reached her)

False Imprisonment

An actor is subject to liability to another for false imprisonment if

a. He acts intending to confine the other or a third person within boundaries fixed by the actor, and

b. His act directly or indirectly results in such a confinement of the other, and

c. The other is conscious of the confinement or is harmed by it.

– Shopke

of conduct in general

o Court does not accept the implied consent defense. Rules in football prevented against this type of injury.

-O’Brien v Cunard Steamship Co: women gets smallpox vaccination

· If P’s behavior was such as to indicate consent on her part, he was justified in his act, whatever her unexpressed feelings might have been.

· Applies an objective test: what would a reasonable person infer based on someone’s actions?

-Christman v Davis: doctor did a less invasive procedure than the P had originally consented to

· Courts will dismiss medical battery claims where a surgeon chooses to perform a less extensive operation than the one consented to.

Medical Emergencies

· Must be unable to consent

· There must be an urgent need for treatment

· There must be a risk serious bodily injury if action is not taken immediately

o All three elements must be true at time of treatment.

-De May v Roberts: stranger present when woman gives birth to a child.

· Court calls this fraudulent consent

· Consent obtained by fraudulent means is invalid

· Consent requires a subjective state of mind

-Scott v Bradford: woman claims she was not of all the possible risks of her surgery.

· In a medical malpractice action, a patient suing under the theory of informed consent must allege and prove:

1. Defendant physician failed to inform him adequately of a material risk before securing his consent to the proposed treatment.

2. If he had been informed of the risks he would not have consented to the treatment

3. The adverse consequences that were not made known did in fact occur and he was injured as a result of submitting to the treatment