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University of North Carolina School of Law
Eichner, Maxine

Elements of Battery

I) Elements of Battery
a. An act by the defendant which brings about harmful or offensive contact to the plaintiff’s person or a third person
b. With intent on the part of the defendant to bring about harmful or offensive contact
c. offensive contact occurs when contact “offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity”
i. If knowledge that offense will occur, this test does not need to be addressed
d. Plaintiff’s person = anything connected to the plaintiff is viewed as part of the plaintiff’s person (in a car, on a bike, holding a purse)
e. Actual damages not required

II) Intent to cause harmful or offensive contact –
a. Establishing intent
i. Clearly expressed intent to harm or cause injury, intends injury if that is his goal
ii. Actor need not intend injury, just needs the intent to bring about the consequences that are the basis of the tort
1. Intent to cause offense, without intent to cause physical injury, still can be construed as battery – Snyder
2. Intent may be to help, but if knowledge that contact will offend, fault still exists – Cohen
iii. Intent is present if one knows with substantial certainty that consequences will result – Garrett v. Dailey
iv. Small children (under 7) are incapable of intent to act maliciously; they cannot obtain that state of mind and therefore cannot be held liable because cannot establish intent
v. Intent implies a willful choice to take a certain action
1. Does not matter if the choice is made irrationally or rationally
2. Insane people may be held liable
3. “A muscular reaction is always an act unless it is a purely reflexive reaction in which the mind and will have no share.” p.52 Polmatier
a. exception of things like seizures, etc.
vi. “transferred intent” –
1. where the defendant intends to commit a tort against one person but instead
a. commits a different tort against that person
b. commits the same tort as intended but against a different person
c. commits a different tort against a different person
2. “It is not essential that the precise injury which was done be the one intended” – either more or less injury done or third party injured – Alteiri
3. Applies to assault, battery, false imprisonment
b. *** either have intent to harm or offend, intent to contact in which know that offense will result, or su

minent as almost immediate
iii. Imminent and reasonable apprehension not used interchangeably
iv. If you have a chance to escape then probably not imminent
c. protect emotional autonomy, prevent someone from living in fear, protecting against the apprehension
d. Words alone do not constitute assault, must be an act to accompany the assault that creates a sense of fear or apprehension in the victim
i. May even serve to negate an assault if words make unreasonable the apprehension
e. Transferred intent applies
f. If the defendant has the apparent ability to bring about the threatened contact, although he does not have the actual ability to do so, this does not effect the apprehension of the unknowing plaintiff and cause of action still exists
extended liability – defendant is liable for all damages caused, not merely those intended or foreseeable if found guilty of intentional tort (this applies also in false imprisonment)