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Torts
University of Illinois School of Law
Meyer, David D.

Torts Outline

I. Intentional Torts
A. Battery
Intent
Intent-the subjective desire that the consequences follow.
§13 Battery: Harmful Contact
An actor is subject to liability to another for battery 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 contact, and
(b)a harmful contact with the person of the other directly or indirectly results.
(c)the contact is not otherwise privileged.
§18 Battery: Offensive Contact
(1) An actor is subject to liability to another for battery 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)an offensive contact with the person of the other directly or indirectly results.
§19 What Constitutes Offensive Contact
A bodily contact is offensive if it offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity.
Vosburg v. Putney
Rule: If the Δ did not intend the results of his act, but the act was unlawful he may still be liable regardless of whether he could foresee the outcome of the act.
Facts
–          Δ kicked Π during school and because of a past leg injury the outcome of the act was severe causing Π to lose the use of his leg.
Reasoning
–          Because Δ kicked Π in the classroom setting it was unlawful, had it been an appropriate setting such as the playground Δ would not have been liable.
Doctrine of Constructive Intent
–          If you do A you can reasonably assume that B would be the outcome.
Garratt v. Daily
Rule: If the Δ has knowledge to a substantial certainty of the outcome of their conduct, they can be shown to have the requisite intent.
Facts
–          Δ was a minor who Π was babysitting, Δ pulled a chair out from under Π causing her to be injured.
Reasoning
–          A battery can be proven if in addition to the harmful or offensive contact to the Π, it is proved that Δ knew with a substantial certainty that his conduct could cause the harmful or offensive contact.
Transfers of intent
Between torts (assaultàbattery if contact occurs)
Between victims (intend to punch A but actually hit B instead)
Elements of Harmful or Offensive Contact
§ 15 What Constitutes Bodily Harm
Bodily harm is any physical impairment of another’s body, or physical pain or illness
Comment:
a.       There is an impairment of the physical condition of another’s body if the structure or function of any part of the other’s body is altered to any extent even though the alteration causes no harm.
§19 What Constitutes Offensive Contact
A bodily contact is offensive if it offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity.
Comment:
a.       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 contact which is unwarranted by the social usages prevalent at the time and place at which it is inflicted.
Fisher v. Carrousel Motor Hotel
Rule: Actual physical contact is not necessary for battery as long as there is contact with an object closely related to the person.
Facts
–          Δ grabbed a plate out of Δ’s hand while he was waiting in line for a buffet, and said they did not serve blacks.
Reasoning
–          If the context of the contact with an object closely related to a person is such that they would find it offensive, battery can still occur without actual physical contact.
McCracken v. Sloan
Rule: Consent is assumed for all the reasonable contact that occurs within one’s daily life.
Facts
–          Π sued Δ for smoking around him in the office because he was allergic to it and had told the Δ this.
Reasoning
–          Used an objective standard. Some contact is naturally going to occur in ones day to day activities and one cannot create a bubble around themselves.
Contact that would not cause a reasonable person to take offense, but which the Π does take offense, is not sufficient to impose battery liability.
Cohen v. St. Joseph Memorial Hosp.                                        
Rule: Δ can be liable not only for contacts that do physical harm, but also relatively trivial ones which are offensive and insulting if the Π has asked them to refrain from the offensive touching.
Facts
–          Π was at a hospital to give birth and had asked not to have her naked body touched or viewed by any males; a male nurse knew this and did so anyway.
Reasoning
–          In a non-emergency situation were the Δ knows the Π had specifically asked not to be touched or viewed while naked by males, the request should be followed if the Δ agrees to it beforehand.
Exception-If the Δ knows of the Π’s hypersensitivity to some form of normally non-offensive contact, the Δ may still be liable for battery.
Privileges
Consent
Two types:
Based on the behavior of the Π
Actual express consent-when the Π actually communicates to the Δ a willingness to submit to the Δ’s conduct.
Apparent Consent-implied from the Π’s conduct in the light of the circumstances.
Implied by law
The Π is unconscious or would otherwise be unable to consider the matter and grant or withhold consent;
An immediate decision is necessary (emergency)
There is no reason to believe that the Π would withhold consent if able to do so
A reasonable person in the Π’s position would consent
Consent is not a defense if:
The invasion goes beyond the limits of which consent was given
Lack of informed consent
Π consents but is not adequately informed of the risks and benefits of the procedure (Usually only applies to medical field)
O’Brien v. Cunard Steamship Co. (Failure to object)
Rule: Action and silence that would lead a reasonable person to believe consent has been given can create implied consent.
Facts
–          Immigrant is on a ship and needs a vaccination to get off at her stop or she will be quarantined. She tells the doctor giving shots that she has had one already and he tells her she has no mark and needs one. She sticks out her arm and does not say anything.
Reasoning
–          Her conduct indicated that she desired to have the shot, even though she had not said she did.
Barton v. Bee Line, Inc.
Rule: An underage female can have no course of action against a male that she consents to have sex with.
Facts
–          Δ was a chauffer for a common carrier and had consensual sex with an underage passenger.
Reasoning
–          A statute meant to protect minors, should not also be used as means to award minors who know the nature of their act.
Note on criminal conduct: Consent to a criminal act is not relevant to a civil case, consent does not constitute a privilege.
Barton is the minority rule, usually where a criminal statute is meant to protect a certain class, the people in that class cannot give consent regardless of maturity level.
Bang v. Charles T. Miller Hospital
Rule: In non-emergency situations the doctor must get consent to perform the operation and inform the patient of possible consequences of the operation. (Not a universal rule)
Facts
–          Δ severed Π’s spermatic chords rendering him sterile without fully informing him this would be the consequence of the surgery would be.
Reasoning

Majority view: there is no duty to retreat as an alternative to using deadly force that would be otherwise permissible.
Minority view: there is a duty to retreat if it can be done safely, when guns are involved the retreating is rarely considered safe.
Exception to the minority view: there is no duty to retreat in your home or place of business.
Non-deadly force-can be used if there is a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact (can be a mistake, but must be a reasonable mistake), the Δ used reasonable means to avoid or prevent the contact, there was no duty to retreat (usually there is no duty unless Δ was the initial aggressor).
Courvoisier v. Raymond
Rule: The Δ is not liable for wounding someone in self-defense if the Δ reasonably believed that the person was about to attack them.
Facts
–          Π was sleeping when men broke into his house, he chased them outside and had objects thrown at him by the men. A police officer came on to the scene and announced himself but was still accidentally shot by Δ because he mistook him for one of the assailants.
Reasoning
–          If the circumstances at the time were such that would lead a reasonable man to believe that the use of force was necessary to protect his life or prevent great bodily harm and the belief of the Δ is honest, he is not liable.
Defense of others
An intervener is entitled to use reasonable force to protect a third party as long as the intervener reasonably believes that intervention is necessary and that the third party would be privileged to use self-defense if able to do so, even if the person to be protected would not be privileged to defend himself.
Defense of Property
§77 Defense of Possession by Force Not Threatening Death or Serious Bodily Harm
An actor is privileged to use reasonable force, not intended or likely to cause the death or serious bodily harm, to prevent or terminate another’s intrusion upon the actor’s land or chattels, if
(a)     the intrusion is not privileged…and
(b)     the actor reasonably believes that the intrusion can be prevented or terminated only by the force used, and
(c)     the actor has first requested the other to desist and the other has disregarded the request, or the actor reasonably believes that a request will be useless or that substantial harm will be done before it can be made.
§79 Defense of Possession by Force Threatening Death or Serious Bodily Harm
The intentional infliction upon another of a harmful or offensive contact or other bodily harm by a means which is intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, for the purpose of preventing or terminating the other’s intrusion upon the actor’s possession of land or chattels, is privileged if, but only if, the actor reasonably believes that the intruder, unless expelled or excluded, is likely to cause death or serious bodily harm to the actor or to a third person whom the actor is privileged to protect.
Katko v. Briney