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Torts
University of North Carolina School of Law
Corrado, Michael L.

I.       Intentional Torts
            A.        Prima Facie Case – To make a prima facie case for an intentional tort case the plaintiff would                             have to prove that the defendant caused contact, the contact was intentional, and the contact                              caused the plaintiff harm.
            B.        Physical Harms
                        1.         Trespass to Person, Land, and Chattels
                                    a.         Battery (Trespass to Person) – Two definitions: Vosburg and Restatement                                                             Second of Torts
                                                i.          Vosburg v. Putney – The plaintiff injured his shin while sledding and the                                                              wound seemed to be healing fine. A little less than two months later, the                                                              plaintiff and defendant were at school together (in the classroom) and the                                                             defendant lightly kicked the plaintiff on the shin. At the time, the plaintiff                                                                         didn’t notice anything, but shortly thereafter he experienced extreme pain,                                                                swelling, and vomiting. Doctors drained the wound and noticed dark                                                                         spots on the bone, indicating a blow. The wound continued to exfoliate                                                                      pieces of bone and the plaintiff will never recover the use of that leg.                                                                      Medical experts testified that the leg was probably already diseased                                                                      (possibly from the sledding injury), but it was the defendant’s kick that                                                                      revivified the wound and caused the ultimate loss to the plaintiff of the use                                                      of that limb. The court held that absent any sort of consent from the                                                                      plaintiff, if the defendant intended the contact that caused harm and                                                                     carried out that contact, the defendant is liable for battery
                                                ii.         Under Vosburg, battery is: 1) intent to contact, 2) contact occurs, 3)                                                                      contact results in harm.
                                                iii.        Under the Restatement Second of Torts, battery is: 1) intent to cause                                                                    contact that will harm, offend, or scare, 1) contact occurs 3) contact                                                                      results in harm
                                                iv.        Two parts to intention: the defendant acts purposely (your intent is to                                                                   cause harm) or knowingly (you intend to perform an action which                                                                        logically will cause harm)
                                                v.         Garratt v. Dailey – Defendant, a young boy, pulled a chair out from under                                                                         plaintiff, an elderly woman, as she was about to sit down. As a result, she                                                                   fell on the ground and suffered injury. What we learn from this case is                                                                         that (1) intent includes substantial certainty that something will occur                                                                         and (2) direct contact is not required; the defendant just has to cause                                                                         contact with something else that causes injury to the plaintiff.
                                    b.         Trespass to Land – unauthorized entry onto another’s land.
                                                i.          Dougherty v. Stepp – The defendant entered an unenclosed part of the                                                                   plaintiff’s land with a surveyor. The defendant claimed the land as his                                                                   own and the surveyor surveyed part of the land. However, no markings                                                                 were made on trees and no bushes were cut. The judge in the first case                                                                  said this was not considered trespassing and instructed the jury of this                                                                    before they rendered their verdict for the defendant. The plaintiff                                                                          appealed. The Supreme Court of NC held that every unauthorized entry                                                                into/onto another’s property is unlawful and therefore, trespassing. The                                                                  Supreme Court therefore reversed the lower court’s ruling and granted a                                                                 new trial.
                                    c.         Trespass to Chattels – Two definitions: Blondell and Restatement Second of                                                        Torts
                                                i.          Under Blondell, trespass to chattels doesn’t require any actual harm.
                                                ii.         Under the Restatement Second of Torts, for trespass to chattels, there                                                                    must be actual injury to the property, interference with the owner’s use,                                                                or dispossession.
                                                iii.        Intel Corp. v. Hamidi – Defendant sent 6 emails [to up to 35,000 people                                                                 per occasion] to Intel employees, criticizing the company’s employment                                                                  practices. He broke no computer security barriers and caused no physical                                                              damage or functional disruption to the company’s computers. He offered                                                             to, and did, remove anyone who requested from the mailing list. The court                                                             took the Restatement Second of Torts position on trespass to chattels and                                                             held that Intel needed to prove that Hamidi’s actions caused actual                                                                                     damage, but they were unable to do so. The court likened it to a rude                                                                         letter being considered trespass to a mailbox, or a rude telephone call                                                                         being trespass to the phone.
                        2.         Defenses to Intentional Torts
                                    a.         Consent – you agreed to whatever was done to you.
                                                i.          Mohr v. Williams – Plaintiff went to see defendant, specialist doctor,                                                                     regarding problems with her ear. Defendant examined plaintiff’s right ear                                                             and found numerous problems with it and advised her that an operation on                                                             it would be advisable. Defendant tried to examine the left ear at that same                                                                         time, but due to foreign substances inside, was unable to do so. Plaintiff                                                                       consulted with her family doctor and several more times with defendant                                                                    before deciding to have the surgery on her right ear. At the time of the                                                                   surgery, the plaintiff was anesthetized and the defendant then did a full                                                                     exam of her left ear. The plaintiff’s family doctor was present. The                                                                  defendant noted that the left ear was in worse state than the right ear and                                                                  was actually the ear that should be operated on. The plaintiff’s family                                                                         doctor concurred and the defendant proceeded to perform the surgery on                                                                    the plaintiff’s left ear. The doctor did the surgery correctly, but the                                                                         plaintiff alleged that she suffered hearing loss and serious injury and that                                                                  the surgery was unlawful, because she did not consent to have an                                                                            operation on her left ear. The court held that the plaintiff only consented                                                                    to the specific operation on her right ear, therefore, the defendant’s actions                                                     were unlawful.
                                                ii.         Hudson v. Craft – The plaintiff engaged in a boxing match at a carnival                                                                  organized by the defendant. The plaintiff voluntarily entered the match                                                                 after being solicited by the defendants with the promise of $5. The                                                                        defendants had no license from the State Athletic Commission and the                                                                   fight was not conducted under the rules of the commission. The plaintiff                                                              sustained injuries during the match as a result of the blows struck by his                                                                 opponent. The plaintiff looks to recover damages from the defendants for                                                                         these injuries. The promoter is held as the chief offender because he did                                                                   not “provide safeguards for the protection of persons engaging in the                                                                         activity.” Defendants did not follow the rules set out by the Athletic                                                                         Commission, nor did they protect “the class of persons” noted in the                                                                         Restatement of Torts, who in this case, would be the combatants involved                                                                      in the boxing match. Judgment for plaintiff.
                                                            1)         Majority Rule – A person can’t consent to an illegal activity.                                                                                  This acts a deterrent to the people organizing the illegal activity                                                                               because they can be held liable for injuries sustained by people                                                                                participating in the activity. The majority rule assumes people                                                                                 agreeing to the activity are idiots who are unable to make coherent                                                                         decisions and need to be protected.
                                                            2)         Minority Rule – Restatement of Torts that says people can                                                                          consent to an illegal activity. This deters people from                                                                                               participating in illegal activities because they can’t collect for                                                                                   injuries sustained during such activities. However, the minority                                                                              rule has an exception which states that if the plaintiff is of the                                                                                  class of people the rule against the illegal activity is designed to                                                                               protect, consent is not a defense. (Otherwise the rule against the                                                                             illegal activity would be ineffective.)
                                    b.         Insanity – Insanity is not generally a defense in tort law because “…courts are                                                       loath to introduce into the great body of civil litigation the difficulties in                                                                determining mental capacity….” However, insanity might be a defense if a                                                           person was so crazy that they couldn’t form the intent to contact the plaintiff.
                                                i.          McGuire v. Almy – Plaintiff was a nurse for the mentally ill defendant.                                                                 One night the defendant was getting violent in her room and the plaintiff                                                              had to go in to make sure the defendant didn’t injure herself. When the                                                                 plaintiff went into the room, the defendant hit her with a table leg from a                                                              table that the defendant had broken.  Even though the defendant was                                                                    insane, the verdict was for the plaintiff because “…it is apparent that the                                                                jury could find that the defendant was capable of entertaining and that she                                                                         did entertain an intent to strike and to injure the plaintiff and that she acted                                                   upon that intent.”
                                    c.         Self-Defense – A person may defend himself or another if he reasonably believes                                                  that the use of physical force is necessary to prevent or repel an attack or                                                                imprisonment. A person must not use more force than that with which he is                                                           threatened.
                                                i.          Courvoisier v. Raymond – Defendant owned a jewelry store and lived                                                                   above it. One night a group of men broke into the building and the                                                                         defendant chased them out into the street. They continued to verbally                                                                   threaten the defendant and they threw bricks at him. The defendant fired                                                             shots into the air to get the men to leave. The noise of the shots attracted                                                              the attention of three police officers who came over to see what was going                                                                         on. Two of the officers arrested the men in the street. The third officer,                                                                        who is the plaintiff in this case, walked toward Courvoisier, calling out                                                                   that Courvoisier should stop shooting because he was a police officer.                                                                       Courvoisier took aim and fired at

     the dock and kept themselves securely fastened by changing any ropes that                                                             wore through. Due to the strong winds of the storm, the ship was                                                                           repeatedly thrown into the dock, thereby causing $500 in damages to the                                                              dock. The plaintiff dock owner sued to recover for the damage. The court                                                             held that necessity is a valid defense to trespass, but it does not alleviate                                                                the would be trespasser from liability for damages. Therefore, even                                                                        though the defendant had the right to use the dock in the storm, he is still                                                             liable for damages.
            C.        Emotional and Dignitary Harms – You can collect if there’s no physical injury, as long as an                              indignity has been committed.
                        1.         Assault – Two definitions: common law definition and Restatement definition.
                                    a.         Common Law Definition of Assault – Assault is intentionally causing a                                                                 reasonable apprehension of immediate harmful or offensive contact.                                                                       Additionally, the common law says words are not enough to commit assault
                                    b.         Restatement Definition of Assault – Same as the common law definition except it                                                 doesn’t require a reasonable apprehension, the victim just has to feel apprehension                                                 (even if most people wouldn’t feel that way). Additionally, the Restatement says                                                             that words are enough to commit assault.
                                                i.          Apprehension – Apprehension is not the same as fear. Apprehend means                                                              you can comprehend that something might happen, but you don’t                                                                           necessarily have to be afraid of it.
                                    c.         I. de S. and Wife v. W. de S. – W came to I’s house one night and wanted to buy                                                             wine, but the tavern door was closed, so W hit it with a hatchet. I’s wife stuck her                                           head out the window and told him to stop. He swung the hatchet at her, but did                                                  not hit her. The court found the defendant had committed assault because where                                                 there is intent to harm, it qualifies as assault.
                                    d.         Tuberville v. Savage – Plaintiff placed his hand on his sword and said to the                                                           defendant, “If it were not assize-time [judges present], I would not take such                                                           language from you.” The defendant wants to know if this is assault. Since there                                                  were judges present, the plaintiff’s statement declared that he was not going to                                                      assault the defendant. Stating that one is not going to assault another does not                                                      qualify as assault.
                        2.         Offensive Battery – contact made with the intent to offend
                                    a.         Alcorn v. Mitchell – Defendant was suing plaintiff for trespass. At the end of the                                                             trial the defendant spat in the face of the plaintiff in front of a large number of                                                             people in the courtroom. The plaintiff is now suing for battery. The court held                                                             that “[t]he act in question was one of the greatest indignity, highly provocative of                                                         retaliation by force, and the law, as far as it may, should afford substantial                                                                         protection against such outrages.…” The court held that spitting on someone is                                                       offensive battery because the court wants to provide a way to defend one’s honor                                                     other than dueling, i.e., suing.
                        3.         False Imprisonment – Requirements: (1) total confinement rather than just partial                                                confinement; (2) plaintiff must have conscious awareness of the confinement; (3)                                                 restraint of the plaintiff’s freedom must be intentional; (4) defendant must use actual                                           physical force or threat of physical force to restrain the plaintiff; (5) restraint must be                                            unlawful.
                                    a.         Bird v. Jones – Part of a public highway was enclosed and used as a viewing area                                                  for a boat race. Spectators paid for their seats in said area. The plaintiff wanted                                                    to enter this area and the defendant stopped him. The plaintiff then climbed over                                                 the wall into the enclosure. Two policemen then stood by the defendant and                                                         prevented him from going any farther. He was told that he was allowed to remain                                                 where he was or to go back over the wall in the direction from which he had                                                          originally come. He was told that once outside of the enclosure, he could go in                                                     any direction except for the direction he wanted to go. No force or restraint was                                                  used on his physical person. The judge doesn’t want this case of “partial                                                                obstruction and disturbance” confused with “total obstruction and detention.”                                                      Imprisonment is more than just the loss of freedom of going anywhere one wants.