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Author Topic: Transferred intent hypo  (Read 870 times)

aldicarb

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Transferred intent hypo
« on: September 04, 2006, 04:39:59 AM »
This part of a hypo given by my torts professor.

Slamming down the receiver, Angie screamed "I've had it with you, and Im going to get you!". John sat stunned at his secretary station outisde Angie's office. She had been angry at him before, John thought, but never this angry. John was terrified, he decided to call security.


Before John could call security, Angie's door swung open. Scowling, she headed for John, carrying a heavy stack of filesin her hands. She held the files as she approached John, and prepared to slam them down on John's desk for filing. John, however, was sure Angie was going to slam the files on his head. To avoid the result, John quickly dropped under his desk.


Angie, still holding the files, realized what had happened and laughed. "Im not going to get you now. Youll regret your behavior. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life. Now file these." She slammed the files down on the desk, just above John's head, and walked away. John had heard what Angie said, but was shocked by the sudden crack of the files slamming on the desk. His head jolted upward, striking hte metal underside of the desk.


Discuss the claims for John v. Angie for battery and assault
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Firstly, I believe John has a good claim for assault. Angie should have been substantially certain that her screaming at John from her office and scowling while coming out at him with a heavy stack of files would cause an apprehension of offensive/harmful contact, particularly considering that she has been "angry" in the past.


I am unsure about the battery. Under transferred intent, the intent from the assault would transfer to a battery (when John hit his head). But the problem is that the contact did not occur until after Angie had explained that she wasn't going to hurt him, at least not until until the future. And future threats do not count as an assault. So basically, I am concerned with the fact that the real assault, of Angie coming out with the files only caused John to go under his desk. The contact was caused, however, by the stack of files hitting his desk, scaring him. But by this time Angie had explained to him what she said and I doubt she had substantial certainty that he would hit his head by her dropping the files on the desk. So I would say he wouldn't have a claim for battery, even under transferred intent.

what do you guys think?
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starter

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Re: Transferred intent hypo
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2006, 10:07:32 AM »
I don't think transferred intent is an issue at all here.  With transferred intent A sets out  to cause harm to B  instead, unintentionally, causes C to suffer the harm.  All we have in this hypo are two parties so I don't see how transferred intent can apply.  I believe you're better off sticking with assault.

Strong

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Re: Transferred intent hypo
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2006, 12:05:28 PM »
I would say assault

Transferred intet cannot work with the desk as the intended victim and John as the 3rd party

I don't know if you could argue battery saying the desk was connected to John

T00083

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Re: Transferred intent hypo
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2006, 01:16:41 PM »
Its nothing.  You can't be held liable for assault when its said over the phone like that.  Unless she was in a cubicle down the row and then hung up and started waking through the office at him.  The threat has to be immediate

slacker

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Re: Transferred intent hypo
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2006, 02:26:59 PM »
The assault wouldn't be the statement over the phone. It would be during her approach, which was immediate and, given the conversation on the phone, would yield the reasonable apprehension of harmful or offensive contact. He wouldn't have that apprehension during the phone call, but he would when she enters his office.

J D

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Re: Transferred intent hypo
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2006, 02:43:26 PM »
The assault wouldn't be the statement over the phone. It would be during her approach, which was immediate and, given the conversation on the phone, would yield the reasonable apprehension of harmful or offensive contact. He wouldn't have that apprehension during the phone call, but he would when she enters his office.

Correct.  Prosser notes that many courts have held that rising and approaching another in a threatening manner may be an assault.  Also, though it is often said that words alone do not make an assault, there are exceptions to that maxim.  Certain words, given in a certain context may be so threatening in themselves as to invade the interests which the tort of assault is designed to protect (e.g., coming up behind someone in a dark alley and saying "your money or your life," whether you see them reach for or weild a weapon or not).

Also, the hypo indicates John was right outside her office door.  I'd say that might be enough to satisfy the immediacy requirement than if Angie were calling from, say, across town or downstairs.
"I never think of the future.  It comes soon enough."--Albert Einstein

dmitrik4

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Re: Transferred intent hypo
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2006, 05:12:00 PM »
I don't think transferred intent is an issue at all here.  With transferred intent A sets out  to cause harm to B  instead, unintentionally, causes C to suffer the harm.  All we have in this hypo are two parties so I don't see how transferred intent can apply.  I believe you're better off sticking with assault.

not completely true.  transferred intent can apply to a two-party scenario.  it applies where the tortfeasor intends tort X but actually commits tort Y.

example:  I pretend I'm going to punch Smith in the face.  I swing my fist towards his nose.  I've assaulted Smith.  TI will apply if I actually do make contact with Smith; i've now committed battery even though i didn't intend to touch Smith.

the key is the intent to commit a tort; if that intent is present the fact that some different tort was committed or some different victim injured doesn't excuse the actor.