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Wayne State University Law School
Calkins, Stephen

The Law of Torts Outline


Prima Facie Case:

1. Intent – for harmful or offensive touching. In analyzing, always distinguish between the intent to act and the intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact.

2. Act – harmful, offensive contact. However, defendant need not herself actually contact the victim.
3. Causation – The defendant’s voluntary action must be the direct or indirect legal cause of the harmful or offensive contact.

Nature of Intent:

1. Intent to cause offensive or harmful contact, or
2. Intent to cause imminent apprehension of offensive or harmful contact.
No Need to Intend Injury!

Vosburg v. Putney – 4 yr old kick to fragile leg; intention unlawful, stipulate deliberate; liable for actual harm, eggshell skull theory.

Rule: even though the defendant did not intend the injury, the act of kicking is unlawful and the kicking was intended

Masters v. Becker – infant (defendant) pried plaintiff’s fingers off tailgate; intent is not specific to resulting injury

Rule: doesn’t matter that the defendant did not intend the resulting injury.

Restatement §1 Intent-

You have the purpose or desire to cause consequences, OR
that the consequences are substantially certain to result from act.

Substantial Certainty that Offensive Contact will occur = Intent

Garratt v. Dailey – P alleged that D, a 5-year-old boy, had deliberately pulled a chair out from under her as she was sitting down.

Rule: In an action for assault and battery a D may be held liable if he did not intend to cause the resultant harm, but knew with substantial certainty that his actions would likely cause the harm.

Beauchamp v. Dow Chemical – workers working with agent orange. Even though employer did not intend injury, it was substantially certain.

Rule: If injury is known with substantially certain to occur, you are deemed to intend the injury to have occurred. Dow knew with substantial certainty that agent orange would injure w

irected at P (P must suffer the resultant contact).

Singer v. Marx – boy is throwing rocks and hits girl in the eye. The boy claims he was trying to hit the other girl.

Rule: If you have the necessary intent for one person, the intent transfers to the person who suffers the harm.

Intent Minority or Mental Capacity:

Can be had by mentally incompetent person or a child.

motives are irrelevant – Good intentions, lack of actual harm, and beneficial results are not a defense if a reasonable sense of personal dignity would be offended.

Reflexive or involuntary Act – this does not constitute a battery. No Intent.

Heightened Sensitivity -if contact that was known to be offensive to a person with an abnormally heightened sensitivity would qualify as battery.