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Torts
Villanova University School of Law
Brogan, Doris DelTosto

Torts

Professor Brogan

Fall 2014

I. Intentional Torts

A. Battery: A harmful or offensive touching; dignity tort.

Battery: Prima Facie Case

1. A acts,

2. Intending to cause a contact with P;

3. The contact with P that A intends is of a harmful OR offensive type; AND

4. A’s act causes P to suffer a contact which is harmful or offensive.

· Act—Must be voluntary/volitional

· Contact—Must make contact (direct or indirect) with the person or an object intimately connected to the person, “extended personality”

§ Fisher v. Carrousel Motor Hotel, Inc.

o P doesn’t need to be aware of the battery when it occurs

o Something may be contact if D was aware of P’s sensitivity

· Intent—“For the purpose of OR with substantial certainty that…”

o “For the purpose of causing the harmful or offensive contact or apprehension OR with knowledge that such contact or apprehension is substantially certain to occur.”

§ Cole v. Hibbard

§ Garratt v. Daily

§ Wagner v. State

· Harmful/Offensive Contact—Harmful contact causes bodily harm; offensive contact is not necessarily whether the person touched takes offense, but if the contact violates prevailing social standards of acceptable touching

o Standard for harmful/offensive may be different depending on whether D knows that P has a specific sensitivity

o Socially accepted contact isn’t harmful or offensive, i.e. brushing up against another in a crowd

§ Cecarelli v. Maher

§ Paul v. Holbrook

Other Rules:

· “Eggshell Skull” Rule: D takes P as he finds her; as long as D’s injuring of P was an actionable tort, the unforeseeability of the extent of damages flowing from the tort does not provide a ground for limiting liability

o Vosburg v. Putney

· Sovereign Immunity: Employees of the state are immune from certain types of torts, often intentional ones; insanity does not negate intent

o Wagner v. State

B. Assault: Protects one from apprehension of contact; dignity tort.

Assault: Prima Facie Case

1. A acts,

2. Intending to cause in P the apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact with P; AND

3. A’s act causes P reasonably to apprehend such contact.

· Act—Must be volitional

· Intent—Again, “for the purpose of OR with substantial certainty that…”

o “For the purpose of causing the harmful or offensive contact or apprehension OR with knowledge that such contact or apprehension is substantially certain.”

· Imminence—P must feel like harm is actually about to happen; cannot be conditional; must feel that D is capable of carrying out the threat

· Apprehension—Person becomes fearful or anxious about the imminent threat; MUST be aware of the danger/imminence, or not assault

· Other factors?

o Words alone are not sufficient to give rise to assault

o Conditional words aren’t enough either—i.e., “If you weren’t 12, I would punch you!”

o Future threats aren’t assault; removes the imminence factor

· Cases:

o Beach v. Hancock

o Brooker v. Silverthorne

o Vetter v. Morgan

Note on Transferred Intent

àTransferred intent applies to all of the scenarios below!

· TI I: Same victim, different intentional tort

o If intending, for example, an assault, but end up committing a battery, the intent supplied from the assault may be applied to the battery.

· TI II: Across Victims

o Intent to commit an intentional tort against one is sufficient to satisfy intent for another if the tortfeasors does not injure the intended victim.

· TI III: Across Torts and Victims

o Open to courts to combine forms of transferred intent to hold tortfeasors liable to actual victim even though he acted to injure potential victim.

· TI IV: From Things to Persons

o Intent should transfer from property torts to other torts; for example, if A intends to shoot B’s dog (chattel), but accidentally shoots B, intent transfers to satisfy a battery against B.

o Transferred Intent—If an act is done with the intention of inflicting upon another an offensive but not a harmful bodily contact, or of putting another in apprehension of either a harmful or offensive bodily contact, and such act causes a bodily contact to the other, the actor is liable to the other for a battery although the act was not done with the intention of bringing

ver, if the property has, in the owner’s absence, momentarily been occupied by an intruder who has no right to be there, the owner may use reasonable force to remove him

o Deadly force to protect property is never okay unless there is someone inside; courts value people over property!

§ Katko v. Briney

o Once “peaceable” possession in enjoyed by another, the owner may not seek to retrieve it through use of force without risking liability

o A possessor may use reasonable force against another if the other has obtained only momentary possession of the chattel

· Insanity? NO.

o Mental handicap does not excuse someone from liability

C. False Imprisonment

False Imprisonment: Prima Facie Case

1. A acts,

2. Intending to confine P;

3. A’s act causes P to be confined; AND

4. P is aware of her confinement.

· Must show that D either intended to confine, or at least that D knew with substantial certainty that P would be confined by D’s actions

o Not FI if D negligently or recklessly confines—i.e., shopkeeper accidentally locks up shop with patron inside

· Accidental confinements ordinarily not actionable as FI

· Confinement must be such that P is confined within definite boundaries and has no means of escaping

· P must be aware of her confinement; if you don’t know you’re confined, it’s not FI

· Must be no reasonable means of escape that P is aware of; movement in all directions is limited

· Imprisonment may be carried out by direct physical means, but also by threats, or by the assertion of authority

o Threats: D threatens to use force if P tries to escape

o Assertion of legal authority: Confinement can still happen if D has the legal authority (see below)

§ Case: Fojtik v. Charter Med. Corp.