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University of Illinois School of Law
Robbennolt, Jennifer K.

Professor J. Robbenolt – Fall 2012
Intentional Torts

v  Summary
Ø  Generally formulated:  1) Conduct 2) Intentionally 3) Causing 4) Harm to another
Ø  Two subdivisions
1.       Intentional torts against the person
·         Battery, Assault, False Imprisonment, IIED
2.       Intentional interference with property
·         Trespass to Land, Trespass to Chattels, Conversion
Ø  It is possible to be held liable for both Trespass to Chattels and Conversion simultaneously
v  Intent
Ø  Generally:
1.       Having as your purpose to cause the harm
·         OR
2.       Know with substantially certain the harm will result
Ø  In Persons with Diminished Capacities:
1.       Children, insane persons, and mentally handicapped people found liable on intent so long as they are capable of formulating it in their mind.
·         Garratt v. Dailey: Jury had to decide whether Brian Dailey knew he could know the harm would occur with substantial certainty
Ø  Transferred Intent:
1.        Intent to commit any one of these five Intentional Torts transfers to all of them
·         Battery, Assault, False Imprisonment, Trespass to Land, Trespass to Chattels (NOT  IIED or Conversion)
Ø  Jurisdictional SPLITs:
1.       Intent to harm (Majority) v. Intent to contact (Minority)
v  Battery
Ø  Elements
1.       Conduct
2.       Intentionally
3.       Causing
4.       A harmful or offensive contact with the person of another
Ø  Purpose: To protect the body’s physical dignity
Ø  Harmful Contact
1.       A physical impairment of the condition of another’s body
·         When the structure or function of any part of the other’s body is altered to any extent, even if the alteration causes no harm
2.       Physical pain
3.       Illness
Ø  Offensive contact: Offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity
1.       Objective test, jury question
2.       Brzoska v. Olson: Dentist with AIDS, subjectively patients were worried about infection. Held: objectively, there was no risk of infection and thus no reasonable jury could find a worry occurred.
Ø  Chattels intimately connected with the body are deemed part of it
1.       Fisher v. Carrousel Motor Hotel: White manager liable for battery when he snatched a plate out of a Black person’s hand.
v  Assault
Ø  Elements
1.       Conduct
2.       Intentionally
3.       Causing
4.       The Plaintiff to reasonably apprehend an imminent harmful or offensive contact with their person
Ø  Purpose: To protect the mind’s dignity
Ø  Plaintiff must have been aware of the threat to apprehend it
Ø  Present ability to contact
1.       As a matter of law, a person could not reasonably apprehend a contact when there is no way the defendant could actually touch them.
2.       Western Union v. Hill: Defendant tried to assault plaintiff over a large counter, jury question as to whether it was possible to touch plaintiff.
Ø  Words alone are not enough to constitute battery
v  False Imprisonment
Ø  Elements
1.       Conduct
2.       Intentionally
3.       Causing
4.       The unlawful confinement of another against their will
Ø  Purpose: To protect an individual’s freedom of movement
Ø  Confinement
1.       Types:
·         Restricting the movement of a person within boundaries fixed by the actor
·         Threats of violence, injury to person, reputation, or property
o    Grant v. Stop-N-Go: Plaintiff was detained, was afraid to leave because defendant had grabbed him and told him not to leave
2.       Requirements
·         Victim must be aware of the confinement or suffer harm because of it
·         Victim must not be able to reasonably escape
·         (In shoplifting cases) The victim must not be staying only to clear his name
Ø  Shopkeepers Privilege (Affirmative Defense)
1.       A shopkeeper may detain a potential shoplifter in a reasonable way for a reasonable amount of time to investigate ownership of the property in question
2.       Elements
·         A reasonable belief a person has stolen or is attempting to steal
·         Detention for a reasonable time; and
·         Detention in a reasonable manner
3.       Some jurisdictions may not have a statute enabling the Shopkeepers Privilege. If this is the case, a detaining shopkeeper will be invoking Recovery of Goods (infra)
·         However, the Restatement does urge courts to adopt a statute codifying the Shopkeepers Privilege
v  Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Ø  Elements
1.       Extreme or outrageous conduct
2.       Intentionally (or recklessly)
3.       Causing
4.       Severe emotional distress
Ø  Purpose: To protect one from severe emotional distress
Ø  Extreme or outrageous conduct
1.       Goes beyond all possible bounds of decency. An utterly atrocious act intolerable to a civilized community. Major outrage.
2.       Plaintiff must be expected to be hardened to:
·         Mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, trivialities, unkind acts, rough language
3.       Plaintiffs with physical or mental conditions
·         Conduct might be outrageous if an actor knows of a condition and uses it against the plaintiff.
o    Harris v. Jones: Plaintiff had a stutter, boss at GM mocked

aser problems
1.       Most courts hold that a BFP has converted despite their status as a BFP
2.       Transferring a chattel to a third party is also conversion
Ø  Damages:
1.       Defendant gets to keep the chattel, but must pay the full value of it

v  Summary
Ø  Privilege refers to conduct that would normally be prohibited, but under the circumstances is permitted
1.       “Well yes, the tort occurred, but it was justified because…”
Ø  Burden of proof is shifted to the defendant to properly assert a privilege
v  Consent
Ø  Mantra: “To one who consents, no wrong is done”
Ø  Restatement definition:
1.       Consent is willingness for conduct to occur.
2.       It may be manifested by action or inaction
3.       Does not need to be communicated
4.       If words or conduct is reasonably understood by another to be intended as consent, it is effective as consent in fact
Ø  Express consent
1.       Saying “I give you permission to do X”
Ø  Implied consent
1.       Courts will imply consent in cases that a reasonable defendant would have thought the plaintiff was consenting
2.       Employs an objective test of reasonableness
·         O’Brien v. Cunard: Doctor was vaccinating women on the ship. Vaccination was widely publicized, notice was posted. Defendant was in line with hundreds of other women waiting to be vaccinated
Ø  Acts that will invalidate consent
1.       Incapacity
·         Consent cannot be given by a child, one who is intoxicated, unconscious, etc.
·         Exception for medical emergencies:
o    Courts will imply consent when a victim is:
§   Unable to consent
§   Has an urgent need for treatment; and
§   Has a serious bodily injury
2.       Fraud
·         Consent obtained through fraudulent means is invalidated
o    E.g. Asking your neighbor to sign a “petition,” which is really a power of attorney form
o    De May v. Roberts: Plaintiff gave defendant consent to help with a birth under the impression that he was a doctor’s aide. It turns out he was just some guy, and thus consent was invalidated.