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Torts
University of North Carolina School of Law
Eichner, Maxine

 
Torts, Eichner, Fall 2014
Intentional Torts
 
Battery
A person is subject to liability for battery when he acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact, and when a harmful or offensive contact results.  Contact which is offensive to a reasonable sense of personal dignity is offensive contact.
 
Prima Facie case
A prima facie case has been made IF a person (all elements)
Acted
An act has actually resulted if the person acted (all elements)
                                                              i.      Consciously
1.      Acts committed while unconscious do not constitute an intentional tort
Hammontree v Jenner (epileptic driver)
                                                            ii.      Voluntarily
1.      Reflexive acts – A muscular reaction is always an act unless it is a purely reflexive reaction in which the mind and will have no share.
 
With Intent
Intent exists if person acts with (any element)
                                                              i.      actual intent to harm or offend
1.      Actual intent to harm or offend exists if a person’s goal in acting is to bring about harm or offense.  Snyder v. Turk (surgeon pulled nurse down to open wound).
                                                            ii.      Substantial certainty that the harmful or offensive contact will occur.
1.      A person “intends” harm or offense if he knows with substantial certainty that harm or offense will occur. Garratt v. Dailey (5 year old pulls chair out from woman)
2.      Recklessness, wantonness, willfulness
If the action is not intentional, shows an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for a person’s own safety.
                                                          iii.      Transferred intent
Exists if a person intended to commit a tort against one person but (any element)
1.      commits a different tort
2.      commits against another person
a.       Intending to put others in apprehension of harmful or offensive contact is transferable to another who is not the object of the intention, leading to battery to that person.
b.      An actor who intends a battery against one person but unintentionally commits a battery against another is liable for the battery that occurred.
               Hall v. McBride  (Youth fires gun towards car and bullet hits neighbor)
                                                          iv.      Exceptions
1.      Insanity
An insane person is except from liability ONLY IF (all elements)
a.       He/she has no sane reason for the action
b.      He/she does not understand harm will result
White v. Muniz  (83 year old punches nurse when trying to change diaper)
But an insane person is NOT exempt from liability if he/she intends to do harm
Polmatier v. Russ (Insane man kills another with .22)
a.       It is not necessary for someone’s reasons and motives for forming an intention to be rational in order for them to have the intent to invade the interests of another.
2.      Age
A child is not strictly liable for childish acts which he/she commits.
Van Camp v. McAfoos  (3 year old hit woman with tricycle) 
a.       Parents are not generally vicariously liable for the acts of their child, unless the parent is an employer using the child as a “servant.”
b.      In the absence of a statute, the parents’ liability for the acts of their child must be founded not on vicarious liability but on the parents’ own fault.
c.       A number of states impose liability upon the parents for certain limited acts of their children, often acts that are willful, or acts that are directed against certain persons.
3.      Motive
Motive is distinguished from intent and is not considered
a.       Malicious motive will not yield intent
b.      Virtuous motive will not prevent intent
To cause a harmful or offensive contact
Contact is considered offensive for liability IF (any element)
                                                              i.      Contact is considered by that person to be offensive AND DF knows this
1.      Contact is deemed offensive if a person has not expressly or impliedly consented to it  Cohen v. Smith  (Male nurse touched naked, religious pregnant woman)
2.      Egg-Shell Skull Rule – DF must know of PL’s egg shell skull
3.      EXCEPTION
a.       If DF knows contact is acceptable DF not liable
                                                            ii.      Contact is offensive to a reasonable sense of personal dignity.
1.      Snyder v. Turk  (surgeon pulled nurse down to open wound).
2.      Even if trivial
Leichtman v. WLW Jacor Communications Inc.  è (blowing cigar smoke in radio talk show guest’s face).
Which actually resulted in harm or offense
Actual harm or offense will occur regardless of (all elements)
                                                              i.      Actual Damages
PL does not have to prove actual damages.
1.      PL can recover at least nominal damages
2.      Punitive damages possibility if malice
                                                            ii.      Apprehension
PL may recover even though he is not conscious of the harmful or offensive contact when it occurs
                                                          iii.      Immediate Awareness
PL may learn later that harmful or offensive contact occurred and may recover
                                                          iv.      Direct Contact
1.      Extended Personality
Leichtman v. WLW Jackson  (blew cigar smoke repeatedly in face).  Particulate matter (smoke) that is intentionally made to contact a person lends itself to liability in the same way as a physical object.
 
Damages
DF is liable for all injuries resul

                                                                                     ii.      Punitive damages possibility if malice
2.      Person’s ability to defend oneself or avoid harm
a.       One may reasonably apprehend an imminent contact although he believes he can defend himself or otherwise avoid it.
3.      Person’s actual ability to act
a.       A persons’s Apparent ability to act is sufficient
b.      Even though a DF may not be actually capable of immediate contact, apprehension may be reasonable if the DF has the apparent ability to bring about such contact.
4.      Awareness or knowledge of the DF’s identity
a.       While the PL must be aware of the act, PL does NOT need to be aware of the identity of the person who directs the act.
 
Damages
DF is liable for all injuries resulting from the consequences of assault, regardless of foreseeability
        i.Intentional tort law has purpose to deter unauthorized contacts from the outset, imposing costs of all resulting injuries on the actor
False Imprisonment
An actor is subject to liability to another for false imprisonment if he acts intending to confine a person within boundaries fixed by the actor, his act directly or indirectly results in such confinement, and the person is conscious of the confinement or is harmed by it.
 
Prima Facie case
A prima facie case has been made IF a person (all elements)
a.      Acted
An act has actually resulted if the person acted (all elements)
                                                              i.      Consciously
1.      Acts committed while unconscious do not constitute an intentional tort
Hammontree v Jenner (epileptic driver)
                                                            ii.      Voluntarily
1.      Reflexive acts – A muscular reaction is always an act unless it is a purely reflexive reaction in which the mind and will have no share.
 
b.      With Intent to confine a person to a bounded area defined by the actor
Intent exists if person acts with: (at least one)
                                                              i.      actual intent to confine a person to a bounded area
                                                            ii.      substantial certainty that confinement to a bounded area will occur
Transferred Intent