Torts – Hurt, Spring 2008 (Long Version)
I. Intentional Torts
a. Overview (Assault, Battery, IIED, and Intent)
i. Dickens v. Puryear:
1. Facts: ∆ ties ∏ up and proceeds to beat and scare him. ∆ tells ∏ to leave the state of North Carolina; otherwise be killed. ∏ cannot sue for battery or assault because of statute of limitations. Trial court granted summary judgment to ∆ because of it, but ∏ wants to sue for IIED (no yet limited by statute)
2. Issue: Was the final command to leave the state an assault or IIED?
3. Holding: Assaults must be imminent, and the final threat did not create a fear of imminent harm, but a future harm. IIED, thus allowed.
b. Goals of Tort Law:
i. Deterrence, Economic Compensation, Loss Allocation, Avoid undue burdens on Commerce, Court Administrative Efficiency, and Fairness.
ii. Law and Econ Approach
1. Seeks to minimize overall costs of accidents
2. Allocates cost based on who is in the best position to minimize the loss
iii. Traditional Approach
1. Seeks to assign fault – Reflective of societal value
2. Allocates costs based on who committed the wrong.
3. Retributive aspects
i. POLICY: Tort of assault was created to: a) to deter the assaulter; and b) to compensate people that have to endure apprehension.
ii. Escape: The law does not require the victim to escape, even when they are able to.
1. HYPO: “Give me your wallet and won’t hurt you”
iii. Assault generally is unavailable where there is no accompanying aggressive conduct such as moving toward a person while verbally abusing. Nor is assault available where the abusive verbal comments are not related to harmful or offensive physical contact. (insulting language doesn’t count).
1. Exception: when the ∏ must rely on the words alone, words may be sufficient (“turn around and I’ll kill you”)
iv. Imminence requirement: the ∏ must have been aware of the threat at the time thereof. Battery doesn’t not require awareness of touching.
1. Assault + Battery only when the victim was in apprehension of contact before the contact happened.
2. Thus, threats over the phone would fail the imminence test.
v. Fear: Fear not required, however must actually be in apprehension. ∆ must have actual or apparent ability to carry out the act. It is the ∆’s intention that we want to punish more than we want to compensate the ∏.
vi. Physical Contact: Assault generally requires apprehension of physical harm.
1. Exception: in some situations, such as debt collectors, the frequency and quality of the harassment can turn into assault.
vii. PRIMA FACIE CASE:
1. Affirmative Voluntary Act: Words alone are not sufficient. It must be accompanied by other acts or circumstances that put the ∏ in apprehension of imminent physical harm
2. Intent: Can be met by: a) either an attempted battery, or a purpose to cause apprehension; or b) substantial certainty rule; or c) Transferred intent.
3. Cause: Must meet the “but for” test
4. Reasonable Apprehension of battery or false imprisonment:
a. Imminence of threat – no significant delay
b. Apparent ability to carry out threat
c. P must be aware of threat
d. Fear not necessary (Exception: ∏ knows of ∆’s timidity)
5. Unprivileged: lack of consent
viii. Vetter v. Morgan:
1. Facts: ∆ drove alongside ∏ at a light and threatened to remove her from her car. ∆ spat on her car. ∏ drove into the curb and was thrown off her seat. ∆ testifies that he didn’t intend for her to be scared.
2. Issue: Was there intent? Did he have either a purpose or knew to a substantial certainty that his conduct would create apprehension of harm?
3. Holding: Yes, even though it wasn’t his direct purpose to put her in apprehension, he was substantially certain that it would happen. In a ruling against summary judgment court ruled that there is enough evidence for it to go to jury trial.
i. POLICY: The tort of battery protects two interests: a) the interest in physical integrity; and b) a dignitary interest. Recognizes a legal interest in emotional and reputational concerns, as wells as deters self-help violence.
ii. PRIMA FACIE CASE:
a. ∆’s purpose or desire was to cause the harmful or offensive contact (not the injury) or the apprehension of such contact (subjective state of mind); or
b. ∆ knew that such contact was substantially certain to occur (Subjective state of mind); or
c. Transferred intent
2. Causation: “But for” ∆’s voluntary act, ∏ would not be harmed
3. Harmful or Offensive Contact: Harmful or offensive to a reasonable person
4. To a Person: A person’s body or something attached or closely associated.
5. Unprivileged: Lack of consent
iii. Battery Elements: An 1) actor 2) who intends 3) to cause 4) a harmful or offensive contact 5) with another person, and 6) the harm occurs.
iv. Offensive: “offensive” is defined as what would offend a reasonable person’s sense of dignity.
v. Leichtman v. WLW Jacor Communications, Inc.
1. Facts: ∏, known for his anti-smoking stance, went on a radio talk show program wherein the host blew smoke into his face for the purpose of humiliation and physical discomfort.
2. Issue: Can smoke be an instrument of battery? Does second hand smoke cause harmful contact?
3. Holding: Yes, smoke is partic
that if employee is subjected to the process, harm will be a substantial certainty. (many courts have interpreted substantial certainty to mean virtual certainty to keep ∏ within workers’ compensation)
3. With knowledge, ∆ required the employee to continue
f. False Imprisonment
i. POLICY: False imprisonment is intended to protect one’s personal interest in freedom from restraint of movement.
ii. Definition: the wrongful confinement, restraint, or detention of an individual to a limited area.
iii. False Imprisonment Elements (HURT): Willful detention, without consent, without authority of law.
iv. Threats: Threats to your person or family can constitute false imprisonment
v. Inconvenience: If it’s merely inconvenient (having to take the stairs over the elevator), it is not false imprisonment. However, we do not require people to take any risks in escaping.
vi. PRIMA FACIE CASE:
1. Confinement: a) Actual or apparent barriers; b) No reasonable means of escape; c) Only brief time required; d) Knowledge by ∏ usually (historically) required; e) Challengeable?
a. Confinement requires that the ∏ be restricted to a limited area without knowledge of a reasonable means of escape.
b. Confinement can be caused by threats or duress (immediate family members). DOES NOT INCLUDE FUTURE HARM.
i. Includes threat to body and possibly property.
2. Of a person
3. Causation/Volition: “But for” causation; Affirmative voluntary conduct; Words alone may be sufficient
4. Intent: a) Purpose ore desire to cause confinement; b) Substantial certainty; c) Transferred intent available.
5. Unprivileged and without Authority of Law
a. Shopkeeper’s privilege exception: When a person reasonably believes that another has stolen or is attempting to steal property, that person has legal justification to detain the other in reasonable manner and for a reasonable time to investigate ownership or property.
b. HYPO: A restaurant owner will not give a coat back until the bill is paid. Supposing the ∏ had paid, the restaurant owner will be held to the shopkeepers privilege standards.