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Author Topic: Intentional Torts question  (Read 3717 times)

Jackson Smith

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Intentional Torts question
« on: September 05, 2005, 08:31:16 PM »
Re: intent

Battery requires 1) intent to make harmful or offensive contact and 2)harmful or offensive contact

Some fact patterns I see say that the defendant can not really "intend" to be harmful or offensive, yet it is still a 'battery.' ex. a man helps a woman onto a bus, and inadvertantly breaks her arm. CALI calls that a battery, simply because he had the intent to make the contact. But my torts prof says the intent that should be considered should be analyzed within the context. ex. a man grabs someone who is falling off a cliff, and as a result they break their arm. My torts prof would say that is not a battery, because the man had no intent to break the arm of the person falling etc. It becomes confusing. CALI seems to think that's a battery. My torts prof pushes me in a diff direction. which is it?
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bacchus

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Re: Intentional Torts question
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2005, 10:09:00 PM »
Is it substantially certain he would break the woman's arm or just reasonably foreseeable?
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CoxlessPair

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Re: Intentional Torts question
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2005, 10:13:30 PM »
There is no battery in the falling off the cliff hypo.

There is type of consent called Emergency Rule Consent (another book I have calls in Implied-In-Law Consent) in which when an emergency endangers the life or health of the plaintiff, consent is implied from the circumstances.  

With the element of consent fufilled, the arm-breaking defendant would have priviledge and thus would not be liable.
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Coregram

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Re: Intentional Torts question
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2005, 10:20:41 PM »
I was taught the same way your professor thinks.  And the E&E for Torts agrees.

"Intent" alone is not the element of intentional battery.  The element is "intent to cause harmful or offensive contact, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact."

So unless the contact is intended to be harmful or offensive, as determined by the reasonable person standard, not the victim's subjective opinion, it's not likely to be considered battery.  Grabbing a woman's arm helping her on the bus probably wouldn't be battery, as a reasonable person wouldn't think there was an intention to cause harm inspite of the result.  Grabbing a woman's butt in a line would be even if she weren't hurt, as it's likely to be considered offensive by a reasonable person even if it didn't hurt.

Dean Prosser

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Re: Intentional Torts question
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2005, 10:21:18 PM »
"My torts prof would say that is not a battery, because the man had no intent to break the arm of the person falling etc. "

With implied consent, and also lack of intent; a reasonable person in the man's shoes (falling off a cliff) would not find that offensive.


cascagrossa

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Re: Intentional Torts question
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2005, 10:29:04 PM »
causing "apprehension of such a contact" is an element of assault, not battery, right?  there actually has to be some kind of harmful contact for battery.

and what about vosburg v. putney where the court ruled that intent to act is enough even if there is no intent to harm?  if you slap someone in the face in a joking manner but end up breaking his/her nose, you can be held liable for battery simply because you intended to commit that act of slapping, even though you didnt intend to cause any harm.

Leaf2001br

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Re: Intentional Torts question
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2005, 10:34:39 PM »
I think the question in the case of the face slap is that the touching was not harmful but offensive.  The slap was unwelcome by the victim and was consequently the cause in fact of the harm done.  Therefore what was intended as an "offensive" act resulted in a harmful act, so there is a liabilty.

In the case of the woman on the bus, the same thing would have to apply.  Obviously, consent by the woman would nullify the liabilty, but if she did not consent to the "help", it must be considered an "offensive" touching.  Harm resulted so the good samaritan here is liable.  Wether harm was intended becomes irrelevant.
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btideroll

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Re: Intentional Torts question
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2005, 11:06:44 PM »
I was taught the same way your professor thinks.  And the E&E for Torts agrees.

"Intent" alone is not the element of intentional battery.  The element is "intent to cause harmful or offensive contact, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact."

So unless the contact is intended to be harmful or offensive, as determined by the reasonable person standard, not the victim's subjective opinion, it's not likely to be considered battery.  Grabbing a woman's arm helping her on the bus probably wouldn't be battery, as a reasonable person wouldn't think there was an intention to cause harm inspite of the result.  Grabbing a woman's butt in a line would be even if she weren't hurt, as it's likely to be considered offensive by a reasonable person even if it didn't hurt.

This question is a total bait question that would be argued on both sides on an exam. There is no clear cut answer to this...it lies in the gray area of intent and that's why he asked it, because its a *** to answer.

Page 1 in Gilbert's Torts, Under the "Chapter Approach" heading [$$1-2] it says, and I quote..."Remember to apply the term "intent" to the result that occured, NOT the act the defendant engaged in; the defendant must have desired that a particular result occur or have been substaintially certain that such a result would occur."

Then on page 4 it says "to make out a case for battery, the plaintiff must show that the defendant's intentional act resulted in the infliction of a harmful or offensive touching..."

Talking about confusing....

Thus it all depends on which side convinces the jury over a 51% level of reasonable doubt.

Defense would argue the man was just being helpful and couldn't forsee her arm breaking, and possibly that he even had implied consent
Prosecution would argue that in order to break someones arm the contact must have been substantial and that when the D grabbed the arm he had to be certain such a grabbin could result in a break.

In the end the law usually favors the innocent and injured Plaintiff over a defendant even if he had good intentions....because someone has to be accountable and it can't be the person who didn't act.

btideroll

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Re: Intentional Torts question
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2005, 11:12:39 PM »
Grabbing a woman's arm helping her on the bus probably wouldn't be battery, as a reasonable person wouldn't think there was an intention to cause harm inspite of the result.  Grabbing a woman's butt in a line would be even if she weren't hurt, as it's likely to be considered offensive by a reasonable person even if it didn't hurt.

According to Gilbert's, the test is subjective to the D. In other word's what in FACT did D desire or believe...not what a reasonable person would assume if they acted that way.

btideroll

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Re: Intentional Torts question
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2005, 11:13:29 PM »
"My torts prof would say that is not a battery, because the man had no intent to break the arm of the person falling etc. "

With implied consent, and also lack of intent; a reasonable person in the man's shoes (falling off a cliff) would not find that offensive.



it was still harmful