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Torts
University of Illinois School of Law
Robbennolt, Jennifer K.

Torts – Outline

Robbenolt – Fall 2013

THEORIES OF LIABILITY

· There are three kinds of liability in tort law

o Intentional Torts – conduct intentionally causing harm to another person

o Negligence – failure to use reasonable care that causes harm to another

o Strict Liability – liability without fault

INTENTIONAL TORTS

General Form of Rule:

– Conduct

– Intentionally

– Causing

– Harm to another

A. INTENT

· Restatement of Torts: “An actor is subject to liability to another for battery if he acts intending to cause harmful or offensive contact with the person of the other…and a harmful [or offensive] contact with the person of the other directly or indirectly results.”

· Intent = “external manifestation of the actor’s will” or a voluntary movement

· Intent requirement is met EITHER by a purpose to cause the tortious contact OR substantial certainty that such contact will result.

· General Rule:

o Desire to cause the consequences of the act (e.g., harmful or offensive touching)

OR

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

· Transferred Intent (See Talmage v. Smith)

o 5 intentional torts that fell within the writ of trespass:

§ Battery

§ Assault

§ False imprisonment

§ Trespass to land

§ Trespass to chattels

o Intent will be found where a D intends to commit one of 5 intentional torts against a particular person but instead:

§ Intends to commit that intentional tort against a different person

§ Intends to commit a different intentional tort against that person

§ Intends to commit a different intentional tort against a different person

B. BATTERY

General Rule:

– Conduct

– Intentionally

– Causing

– Harmful or offensive contact with the person of another

· Restatement of Torts (2d): An actor is subject to liability to another for battery if:

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

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

· Definitions:

o Harmful contact à “any physical impairment of the condition of another’s body, or physical pain or illness”

o Offensive contact à “offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity”

§ Objective Standard

§ See Fisher v. Carrousel

· Knowledge that harmful or offensive contact was “substantially certain” to result

o Intent requires no showing of purpose to injure or other bad motive. It only requires a volitional act with knowledge that there is “substantial certainty” that the result will occur (See Garratt v. Dailey)

o Substantial certainty = objective standard of what a reasonable person would have known

o A mistake does not negate intent (See Ranson v. Kitner)

· Examples:

o Smith heaves a stone at her enemy Jones, though she thinks Jones is beyond her range. She is not substantially certain that she will hit Jones, but she acts with the desire to do so. If the stone hits Jones, Smith has committed battery.

o An actor can possess tortious intent even though she bears the victim no ill will whatsoever à If Smith sees Jones walking along the street below and deliberately throws a bucket of water on her from the 2nd story window, it is no defense that she was simply emptying the bucket and did not mean to offend Jones. Intent requirement is met for battery here.

C. ASSAULT

General Rule:

– Conduct

– Intentionally

– Causing

– The plaintiff to reasonably apprehend an imminent harmful or offensive contact with hi

E. INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

General Rule:

– Extreme and outrageous conduct

– Intentionally (or recklessly)

– Causing

– Severe Emotional Distress

· The Second Restatement of Torts § 46:

(1) One who by extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress to another is subject to liability for such emotional distress, and if bodily harm to the other results from it, for such bodily harm.

· Extreme and Outrageous Conduct

o Insults do not generally qualify as extreme and outrageous behavior

o Viable threats of property destruction and battery are extreme and outrageous when made in a workplace setting giving the threatened person little choice but to comply (See State Rubbish Collectors Ass’n v. Siliznoff)

· Severe Emotional Distress

o There must be a material manifestation of emotional distress

o When it is not clear that the actor’s conduct caused the emotional distress and the extent of the cause cannot be proven, a plaintiff cannot win an IIED claim (See Harris v. Jones)

· Intent or Recklessness

o The state of mind necessary for an IIED claim

o Must show that there was intent to perform the conduct and intent to cause the emotional distress as a result of his conduct

o If an actor knew with substantial certainty that severe emotional distress would result, the actor was reckless and therefore satisfies that element

o Intent cannot be transferred in an IIED claim