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Torts
University of North Carolina School of Law
Daye, Charles Edward

Torts
Prof: Charles Daye
Fall 2012
 
INTENTIONAL TORTS
Battery, Assault, False Imprisonment, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Trespass to Land, Trespass to Chattels, Conversion
 
Purpose of Tort Law
-Protect the social interest, deter bad conduct, keep the peace, encourage legal means for dispute, preserve economic interests.
 
INTENT
(1) Capable of entertaining and (2) did entertain an intent to (act causing tort) and (3) acted upon that intent
-Acts for the purpose of causing tortuous consequences; intent to harm unnecessaryß more subjective
-Purpose à intent
-Ranson: shot dog, thought it was wolf. Accident (no intent, still happens) is different than a mistake (intent, but wrong). Liability for mistakes (intended to do the action).
-McGuire: insanity does not preclude a person from liability if the mental illness negates the ability to have the intent.
-Talmage: doctrine of transferred intent, boy on roof
-or Acts with knowledge of substantial certainty that a tort will be inflicted on P; D must only intend the contact ß more objective
-Substantial certainty à intent
-Garratt: young boy pulling chair out from under woman
-Spivey: offensive hug to shy woman
-Woodson: “cave-in” case that stretched the law
-Britt: stretches law, problem with statute of limitations
-Line drawn “at the point where the known danger ceases to be only foreseeable risk which a reasonable person would avoid (N), and becomes in the mind of the actor a substantial certainty.” Wallace v. Rosen
 
-State of mind may be inferred based on RPS (circumstantial evidence to the contrary discredits D statement “I didn’t mean to do it”
-Note: Negligence by P NEVER a defense for an intentional tort, “P didn’t duck when I threw brick at him”
ACT
YES     -Purpose – Intent to do specific harm (break someone’s leg) is sufficient.
            -Substantial Certainty – Garratt
-Transferred Intent – (1) Intends; (2) accomplishes any of: Assault/Battery/False Imprisonment/ Trespass to Land/Trespass to Chattels – liable to third party if not intended target/tort
                        -Ex. A shoots to frighten B (Assault), hits C (Battery)
            -Extended Liability – Make an argument for where the liability extends to, and where it stops.
            -Mistake – Still intent (Ranson v. Kitner – shot dog that he thought was wolf)
            -Children or Insane – So long as sane or old enough to form intent to do act.
NO      -Exceedingly High Probability as to Ultimate Result – Need to have substantial certainty.
-Third Level of Consequence – Absurd beyond anticipation (Spivey – hug paralysis – negligence but not assault or battery)
 
ACTOR
YES     -Good Faith Mistake of Fact – not adequate defense (Ranson – wolf-dog case)
            -Actor Under Distress – Compelled by others, actor still liable for intent.
            -Employers – Liable for intentional tort even if worker compensation immunity shield in place.
            -Intoxicated – Voluntary intoxication does not vitiate intent.
            -Mentally Ill – If normal person liable under same circumstances, then also liable.[1] -Unless tort requires mental state such as malice and insanity negates this capacity (i.e., deceit)
-Law will not inquire into mental state when intent obvious on the surface.
-Fault is not a prerequisite to liability as policy for the public good.
            -Children – 4 year old capable of intent (Baily v. C.S., Tx. App. 2000).
NO      -Infants – 2 year old too young (Fromenthal v. Clark, L.A. App. 1983).
 
TRANSFERRED INTENT
-So long as D held the necessary intent with respect to one person, he will be held to have committed an intentional tort against any other person who happens to be injured
-If D intended to commit a tortious act that is one of the old writs of trespass (battery, assault, false imprisonment, trespass to land, trespass to chattels) then transfer everything not just the intent (see Talmage)
 
BATTERY (dignity/inviolability of person interest)(nominal damages even if no actual damage)
Intent to bring about a harmful or offensive contact to P, without consent or privilege, which causes harm to P’s person or dignity.[2] § 13. Battery: Harmful Contact / § 18. Battery: Offensive Contact
 An actor is subject to liability to another for battery if
(a)    Acts intending to cause a harmful, offensive, or imminent apprehension of such contact with another person
(b)   A harmful/offensive contact with the other directly or indirectly results.
a.       offensive to “reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities”
 
YES     -Intent to Harm Not Required – Need intent to cause contact that is harmful or offensive.
            -Offensive Contact – Rude, insolent, or angry contact based on reasonable person standard.
-Contact with Connected Object – Offensive contact to object connected to P.[3]             -Extended Liability/Unforeseeable Injury – If D causes P to undergo physical contact that is harmful or offensive, D is liable for injuries, no matter how outrageous the injuries are. [4]             -Apprehension Not Necessary – P need not be conscious of the harmful or offensive contact when it occurs (asleep or unauthorized surgery on unconscious patient).
            -Trying to Help – If unwanted (e.g., old man crossing street says he doesn’t want help)
            -Contact Need Not Be Direct – D sets in motion a force that brings about harmful or offensive contact to P (D intends to set trap, digs hole in road. P falls in. There is causation).
 
NO      -Implied Social Consent – If conduct is reasonable and customary given the time, place, and circumstances, then there is usually a privilege unless P says otherwise (giving someone a hug).
-“Live in a Crowded World” – Some minimal amount of interpersonal contact is inevitable[5] and should be expected (crowded public bus).
 
ASSAULT (dignity interest; need awareness)(nominal damages even if no actual damage)
Act with intent to cause battery or apprehension of immediate harmful/offensive contact, and apprehension or fear results without consent or privilege.[6]; no actual contact.
Under circumstances as to create in the mind of P a well-founded apprehension or expectation of imminent battery
(a)   P must have a well-founded apprehension of imminent battery.
(b)   D need not have the ability to carry out the threatened contact, but must appear to be able to do so.
NOTE: Apprehension: an anxiety that you will be touched offensively, or that the P needs to act to defend herself.  (Don’t need to actually be scared)
Nature of Intent: to cause battery or apprehension.
 
YES     -Intent to Commit Battery, But Fail – If P sees, then assault (throw rock at P, he ducks).
            -No Fear Results – Apprehension (expectation) of offensive/harmful contact is sufficient.
            -P has Extraordinary Sensibilities – Immaterial, NOT a “person of ordinary courage” standard.
            -Conditional Threat – “If you don’t pay me now, I’ll beat you up.”
 
NO      -Threats of Future Action – Must be imminent.
-No Knowledge by P – D points gun at back of head, P does not know until afterwards. P unconscious.
            -D Clearly Not Capable of Doing What He Threatens – Guy in wheelchair with knife.
            -Words Alone Cannot Constitute an Assault – Must be accompanied by a gesture.
                        – Unless words are only reliable indicator (“If you turn around, I’ll shoot you.”)
 
FALSE IMPRISONMENT (dignity interest; need awareness)(nominal damages even if no actual damage)
Intentional unlawful restraint of a person’s interest in not being confined against their will, within a boundary, for an appreciable time, and P is conscious or harmed (intending that imprisonment will result – without privilege) (Big Town)
 
Components of False Imprisonment
                   I.            Intentional
a.      For the purpose of confining against the will, or
b.      With knowledge of the substantial certainty that they will be confining against the will
                II.            Confinement (herein of)
a.      Restraint
                                                                          i.      Physical (Big Town); Authority (Enright); force; threats of force; refusal to provide means when part of obligation (Whitaker)
b.      Within boundary (physical or in concept boundary)
                                                                          i.      Exclusion of boundary is not false imp. (can go anywhere but here)
                                                                        ii.      Physical; conceptual (Whitaker)
c.       Appreciable Time
                                                                          i.      Some amount of time; least amount of time; any appreciable amount of time
             III.             Against the will (herein of)[7] a.      With awareness of the confinement at the time[8], or
b.      Harm is suffered from the confinement
              IV.            Without privilege or legal justification[9]  
YES     -Bounded Area – P must be confined in area bound in all directions.
-Acts or Words – Creating threat of immediate harm to P’s person, property, or immediate family, which P fears to disregard.
-False Arrest[10] – Once taken into custody by someone who claims but does not have proper legal authority (warrant or probable cause) to arrest.
            -P need not resist for later claim.
            -Citizens cannot make arrests in most states; only exception – asked for help by officers.
-Mistakenly arresting someone even with good faith belief à false imprisonment (circumstances may mitigate damages though)
-Escape Not Required – Unreasonable (2nd Restatement)
            -If escape involves exposure of person/nudity
-If reasonable fear of material harm to self or another[11] -If P does not know of exit and it is not apparent
-Note: If P is unreasonable in escaping, given circumstances, and may remain “imprisoned” without risking harm, may be unable to collect for injury from escaping.[12] -Lack of Awareness – P only needs to be aware at time false imprisonment occurred. No memory afterwards is okay.
 
NO      -Exclusion – P cannot go here, but can go anywhere else.
            -Moral or Social Confinement – “Your sould will be damned if you leave.” Is insufficient.
                        -Maybe if P is more susceptible, e.g., a child.
            -Lack of Awareness – P must know he is confined unless he is also harmed (i.e., P is asleep)
-Escape Required – When there is another way out and P knows of it and can use it without peril to life and limb.
-If D knows of way out, unless he knows P does not know about it, he lacks requisite intent for false imprisonment.
            -Future Threat – Threat must be imminent.
 
INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS (actual damages required)
When one, by extreme and outrageous conduct, intends or recklessly causes severe emotional distress.
Four Elements:
(1)     The conduct must be intentional/reckless
a.       Intent, substantial certainty, or conscious disregard of a high probability of risk
(2)     The conduct must be extreme and outrageous
a.       Sufficient if D exploits weakness or peculiar susceptibility of P.
(3)     There must be a causal connection between the wrongful conduct and the emotional distress
(4)     The emotional distress must be severe
a.       Emotional distress diagnosable or physical symptoms develop strengthens case.
 
Double-Threshold Tort:  Suffering must be SEVERE and Conduct must be OUTRAGEOUS

fter severance even land can become a chattel.
   -A house is mad out of chattel, but when it’s put together it becomes real property once the house is built.
 
YES     -Innocent Mistake – D drives off P’s sheep believing they are his own.
-Damage Results – Damage limited to actual harm.[21] Includes ensuing bodily injury & emotional distress.
-No Damage, But Temporary Dispossession – Damages for time it could not be used.
-Dispossession: no longer in control of the chattel you have; this may give rise to either a trespass to chattels or a conversion. Considered actual harm.
-No damage? – Still a trespass, but there’s nothing to collect.
 
NO      -Accidental Interference – D accidentally severs P’s phone line.
 
NOTE: Action must be brought by the person who had or was entitled to possession
 
CONVERSION
Intentional exercise of dominion or control over a chattel (or documents) which so seriously interferes with the right of another to control it that the actor may justly be required to pay the other the full value of the chattel, without consent or privilege.
 
1.      Determine justness of requiring total compensation by following factors: (apply these! Pearson v. Dodd)
a.       Extent and duration of actor’s exercise of dominion or control.
b.      Actor’s intent to assert a right in fact inconsistent with the other’s right of control.
c.       The actor’s good faith.
d.      The extent and duration of the resulting interference with the other’s right of control.
e.       The harm done to the chattel.
f.       The inconvenience and expense caused to the other.
2.      An actor may convert a chattel by doing the following:
a.       Acquiring possession of it, e.g. stealing or buying the chattel.
b.      Buying or receiving it, e.g. stolen; obtaining possession after a purchase from a thief.
                                                              i.      a and b include innocent buyers.
c.       Destroying or altering it, e.g. intentionally running over an animal and killing it.
d.      Dispossession, e.g. a bailee wrongfully sells the chattel.
e.       Misdelivering it, e.g. delivery to wrong person by mistake so that the chattel is lost.
f.       Refusing to surrender it, e.g. bailee refuses to return the chattel.
g.       Unauthorized use, e.g. bailee seriously violates the terms of the bailment.
[1] McGuire v. Almy
[2] Cole v. Turner – established criterion for battery and discussed exclusion for brushing by in narrow passage
[3] Fisher v. Carrousel Motor Hotel –the plate was violently snatched out of the P’s hand, this constituted battery
[4] Spivey v. Battaglia – the hug to shy worker case that resulted in paralysis
[5] Wallace v. Rosen – teacher/fire drill case
[6] I de S et ux. V. W de S – hatchet at door case; established assault
[7] Hardy v. LaBelle – if one submits to persuasion to clear others’ suspicion, w/o implied threat of force, then no action
[8] Parvi v. City of Kingston – although he couldn’t remember since he was drunk, the court concludes P was aware at the time of detainment; cites Restatement (Second) of Torts on this matter
[9] see Enright and Whitaker
[10] Enright v, Groves – arrested for not handing over license when only guilty of dog ordinance.  False impris.
[11] Whittaker v. Sanford – would not let pf off boat; both a breach of contract and imprisonment since the sea is a physical barrier for the pf.
[12] Sindle – jump from bus window.
[13] State Rubbish Collectors Ass’n v. Siliznoff – guilty of emotional distress – had to stay home for 7 days; uses 1947 Restatement (this case is not good law; it was BEFORE IIED was establish)
[14] Harris v. Jones – conduct was outrageous, but condition isn’t severe based on that conduct (other factors)
13 Slocum v. Food Fair Stores of Florida  – insulting language isn’t enough; harsh words help people filter anger
[15] Phillips v. Restaurant Management – “Spit in nacho” case; outrageous conduct, not severe suffering
[16] Taylor v. Vallelunga – df did not know the girl was watching him beat-up her dad à no intent
[17] Dougherty v. Stepp
[18] Bradley v. American Smelting – established a 3rd rule for environmental pollution: need substantial damages
[19] Rogers v. Board of Road Com’rs for Kent County –continued presence after the consent was gone makes them liable
[20] Herrin v. Sutherland – one has exclusive possession of the airspace above their land and the ground below (except for navigable airspace)
[21] Compuserve Inc. v. Cyber Promotions – cites Restatement on trespass to chattel and discusses business goodwill