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University of Toledo School of Law
Slater, Joseph E.

Intentional Torts
A. Battery


i. Intent (voluntary) to cause a harmful or offensive act.
ii. Harmful or offensive contact results.
1. Personal touching or causing another object to touch.


i. If there’s substantial certainty that something will happen as a result of your act, then intent can be inferred.
ii. A person must act objectively reasonable, rather than subjectively.

Transferred Intent (Applies to all intentional torts, except IIED.)

i. Two kinds:
1. A tortfeasor intends a tort on one person, but commits a tort on another.
2. A tortfeasor intends one tort, but accomplishes another.


i. (Old Rule): Children under 7 can’t held liable b/c they can’t form sufficient intent.
ii. (New Rule): Some children under 7 can form intent, however it needs to be looked at on case-by-case basis.
iii. Generally, parents are not liable for the behavior (torts) of their children unless they can prove the parent is directly responsible. If the parent is aware the child has a particular dangerous habit and does nothing to change it, the parent is liable.

Mentally Insane

i. Insane people are generally held able to form necessary intent provided the person did intend a harmful or offensive act.
ii. White v. Muniz: Dual intent (when determining if someone is liable for a battery) is a minority rule and is in most cases irrelevant, except insane persons.

Broken Egg Shell Theory

i. A person is liable for all damages, even if extensive injuries were not imagined.

B. Assault


i. D intends to put P in immediate apprehension of a harmful or offensive touching, or other trespassory tort.
ii. D does put P in such imminent (no significant delay) apprehension.
1. Apprehension must be that of a reasonable person. An assault constitutes “a touching of the mind, if not the body.”

Future Threats

i. Words negate intent to effect immediate touching:
1. “If the cops weren’t here, I’d punch you.” No assault would occur b/c you know nothing will happen.
ii. Future threats are not considered assaults.

C. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)


i. The conduct of D was extreme and outrageous.
ii. Intended to cause severe distress or at least was reckless in risking that distress.
iii. Actually cause severe distress.

Determining Outrageous Conduct

i. Conduct is repeated or carried out over a period of time OR
ii. An abuse of power on the one hand or abuse of a person known to be especially vulnerable.

Presence Requirement – Transferred Intent

i. Outrageous conduct directed at A doesn’t necessarily give B a cause of action. The other person must be present to witness the conduct to recover damages.
ii. Where such conduct is directed at a third person, the actor is subject to liability if he intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress:
1. To a member of such person’s immediate family who is present at the time or
2. To any other person who is present at the time, and such distress results in bodily harm.
a. Bodily harm would be a physical manifestation of distress such as ulcers, hives, insomnia.

Fiduciary Duty

i. There are some relationships between people that the law expects a heightened duty for one party. Pastors, doctors, etc.

D. False Imprisonment

A person intentionally confines another w/out lawful privilege and against his consent within a limited area for any appreciable time, however short.

i. False imprisonment is a trespassory tort, so P can recover damageseven if she sustains no actual harm.
1. Actual harm is required, however, to support claim where P was not aware of the confinement at the time it took place.
2. Mental harm can be enough to recover damages.

Confinement – Implies limited range of movement in an area, but not necessarily a small area.

i. Threats or demands- Confinement by explicit or implicit threat or duress.
ii. Assertion of authority – Submission to an officer’s assertion of arrest under legal authority is sufficient to show confinement.
iii. Duress of goods- D grabs P’s wallet and refuses to return it. P wishes to leave, but won’t leave without her wallet.

Limited Privilege – Shopkeepers have a right to retain customers to conduct reasonable investigations re: theft.

i. Is store manager acting in good faith? Is there a plausible reason?
ii. Must take a reasonable amt. of time.
iii. Can’t make excessive threats or use excessive force.
iv. After the search, the customer must be able to leave if they want.

Not False Imprisonment

i. Consent negates false imprisonment (If you agree to be locked inside a box for a magic trick).
ii. If you exclude someone from an area.

E. Trespass to Land

D enters or causes an entry onto the land of another and the entry is intentional.
In one situation, intentional entry is not required.

i. This occurs when one unintentionally enters, as where a car goes out of control without fault, and the car refuses to leave. The refusal to leave is now considered trespass.

Entry – includes entry by objects and other persons in addition to your person.
Intent – Includes either purpose to enter or substantial certainty that entry will take place.

i. The object of the intent need not be “to trespass” however.
ii. D does not escape liability merely b/c he reasonably believes he is on his own land or b/c he reasonably believes he has a right to be there.
iii. Transferred intent is applicable.

F. Conversion of Chattels

D intended to exercise dominion over P’s chattel (personal property) and accomplished that dominion.
Conversion – Someone takes another’s property, they are “converting” it to their own use by exercising substantial “dominion” over it.

i. What to consider to determine if conversion has occurred:
1. Extent and duration of control
2. D’s intent to assert a right to the property
3. D’s good faith
4. The harm done
5. Expense of inconvenience caused

Intent – D must intend to exercise substantial dominion over the chattel, but

easonable observer to believe a person has consented.

Incapacity – Consent is not effective if person lacks mental capacity to give consent.

i. Condition must substantially impair capacity to understand and weigh the harm and risks of harm against the benefits of the conduct and if D must have knowledge of that incapacity.
ii. Competent adults can refuse treatment even if it leads to death.
iii. No consent if individual is not properly informed as to what they are consenting to.

Power Relationships

i. A position of relative weakness can, in some circumstances, interfere with the freedom of a person’s will. The notion of consent must be modified to appreciate the power relationships btw parties.


i. Can consent to a number of touchings, but not everything. (sex w/minor is illegal)

Public Necessity (no compensation – maj. rule)

There is a right to destroy property providing there is an imminent disaster AND the public officials act reasonable.

i. Reasonable is defined as:
1. Actual – action was actually necessary to prevent widespread harm.
2. Apparent – objectively reasonable, good faith judgment that the act was necessary.

Individual rights of property give way to the higher laws of impending necessity. Greatest good for society.
Necessity must be clearly shown in order for an individual not to be held liable. Traditionally, there is no compensation for public necessity.
Taking – Public officials/municipalities have a right, under certain circumstances, to take property for their use (public use), but they must compensate. Individuals themselves should not be forced to bear public burdens alone…citizens of the city as a whole should all bear the cost of the benefit conferred from the necessity.

i. Minority Rule – Compensation – Once a “taking” is found, compensation is required by operation of law.
1. However, some states have held that police destruction or seizure of property is not a constitutional “taking.”

H. Private Necessity (Compensation)

If D prudently and advisedly availed itself of P’s property for the purpose of preserving it’s own more valuable property, P is entitled to compensation for the injury done.
If it’s there’s necessity to avoid serious harm to person or property, there is a privilege to trespass, but if while trespassing the party damages the innocent land holders property then the trespasser is liable for those damages.

i. There is no right to repeat the trespass.