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University of Oklahoma College of Law
Tabb, Murray



Fall 2016

Intentional Torts

Prima Facie Case

Plaintiff must prove

Act by defendant (volitional movement)


Actor desires to cause the consequences of his act, or he believes that the consequences are substantially certain to result from it

Actual desire/purpose/knowledge (specific intent)
Know with substantial certainty that harmful consequences (general intent)

Different Views on Intent

Single Intent (intent to make contact) vs. Dual Intent (intent to harm)

May affect liability because dual intent requires added showing of intent to harm
No clear majority

Doctrine of Transferred Intent

The tort of battery or of assault and battery may be committed, although the person struck or hit by the defendant is not the one whom he intended to strike or hit

Minors and Incompetents Can Have Requisite Intent

Mental Disability

Where a legally insane person causes intentional damage to the person or property of another, he is liable for that damage in the same circumstances in which a normal person would be liable

Favoring Liability
Need to compensate; not about fault or blame
Between two innocent parties, loss falls on the responsible party
Increase diligence of caregiver
Line drawing difficulties of capacity
Fictitious claims


May be held liable for the tort of battery if she acted intentionally, with knowledge to a substantial certainty that her actions would cause a harmful or offensive contact to another person

Types of Intentional Torts

Actor intends to cause harmful or offensive contact upon another without consent or privilege and contact results
Intent Necessary for Battery

It is enough that the actor intends to produce such an effect upon some other person and that his act so intended is the legal cause of a harmful contact to the other

In order for a touching to be sufficiently offensive so as to constitute a battery it must be offensive to an ordinary person not unduly sensitive as to personal dignity based on the time, place, and circumstances under which the touching is done
Unpermitted and intentional contacts with anything so connected with the body as to be customarily regarded as part of the other’s person and therefore as partaking of its inviolability is actionable as an offensive contact with his person.


An assault is an intentional unlawful attempt to touch another in a harmful, offensive, rude, or angry manner, such that it creates a well-founded fear of such touching along with the ability of the offending party to actually effectuate the attempt
Intent Necessary for Assault

The actor intends to inflict a harmful or offensive bodily contact upon the other or a third person to put him in apprehension of such contact

Mental integrity is important to protect

Although, words alone generally do not constitute an assault


Must be reasonably afraid that the threatened action will happen

Timing (imminent)

False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is the direct restraint of one person of the physical liberty of another without adequate legal justification.

There is no liability for intentionally confining another unless the person physically restrained knows of the confinement or is harmed by it

A false imprisonment can be accomplished by

Physical Barriers
Physical Force
Threat of Force
Failure to Provide Means of Escape
Duress, or
Asserted legal authority

Shoplifting Privilege Exception

Reasonable belief
Reasonable manner
Reasonable period of time

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

One who by extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress to another is subject to liability for such emotional distress, and if bodily harm to the other results from it, for such bodily harm

Do not have to show physical harm

Just good evidence

The existence of a special relationship, arising either from contract or from the inherent nature of a non-competitive public utility, supports a right and correlative duty of courtesy beyond that legally required in general mercantile or personal relationships
A party is liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress when the act is done for the purpose of causing emotional distress or with knowledge to a substantial certainty that severe emotional distress will be produced by their conduct

Trespass to Land

Every unauthorized intentional entry onto “close” of another without consent or privilege

Where enter land in possession of another or causes a person or thing to do so
Remain on land without consent
Failure to remove something from land that have a duty to remove

Protects exclusivity of the land
A trespass may be committed by the continued presence on the land of a structure, chattel or other thing which the actor or his predecessor in legal interest therein has placed there on

With the consent of the person then in possession of the land, if the actor fails to remove it after the consent has been effectively terminated, or
Pursuant to a privilege conferred on the actor, if the actor fails to remove it after the privilege has been terminated

Trespass to Chattels

One who without consensual or other privilege to do so, uses or otherwise intentionally inter meddles with a chattel which is in possession of another is liable for a trespass to such person if,

The chattel is impaired as to its condition, quality or value, or
The possessor is deprived of the use of the chattel for a substantial time, or
Bodily harm is thereby caused to the possessor or harm is caused to some person or thing in which the possessor has a legally protected interest

One is subject to liability for trespass to chattel if

He dis-possesses another of the chattel
The value of the chattel is impaired
The possessor is deprived of the use of the chattel, or
Harm is caused to the possessor of the chattel


Existence of Privilege

Anyone is privileged to use reasonable force to defend himself against a threatened battery on the part of another


The privilege is one of defense against threatened battery, and not one of retaliation
When the battery is no longer threatened, the privilege terminates; then the original victim himself becomes liable for battery

Reasonable Belief

The privilege exists when the defendant reasonably believes that the force is necessary to protect himself against battery, even though there is in fact no necessity


Insults, verbal threats, or opprobrious language do not justify the exercise of self-defense
Words can give context to surrounding circumstances

Amount of Force

The privilege is limited to the use of force that is or reasonably appears to be necessary for protection against a threatened battery
Differences in age, size, and relative strength are proper considerations

Retreat Before Use of Deadly Force

The restatement provides that the victim may use deadly force if there is the slightest doubt that the retreat can be safely made, and in determining whether his doubt is reasonable every allowance must be made for the predicament in which his assailant has placed him

Injury to Third Party

The privilege of self-defense is carried over, and the defendant is held not to be liable to the third party in the absence of some negligence toward him

Defense of Others

Nature of Privilege

A privilege similar to that of self-defense is recognized for the defense of third persons

Reasonable force under the circumstances
If the party has intervened to help the aggressor, he is liable

Defense of Property

A person, in protecting his property, may not use force calculated to cause death or serious bodily injury, except where there is also a threat to personal safety that justifies self defense
The value of human life and limb, not only to the individual concerned but also to society, so outweighs the interest of a possessor of land in excluding from it those whom he is not willing to admit thereto that a possessor of land has no privilege to use force intended or likely to cause death or serious harm against another whom the possessor sees about to enter his premises or meddle with his chattel, unless the intrusion threatens death or serious bodily harm to the occupiers or users of the premises