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Intentional Torts and Defenses (General)
Terms in this set (55)
Intentional Torts; Three Elements - The plaintiff is required to prove
The defendant must have the state of mind that directed the physical movement.
Defendant acts with the purpose of causing the consequence; OR
Defendant acts knowing the consequence is substantially certain to occur.
Children and Mentally Incompetent
CAN be held liable for intentional torts if they act with the requisite intent.
Defendant's conduct was a substantial factor in creating the harm.
Defendant causes a harmful or offensive contact with the person of another; AND
Acts with the intent to cause that contact OR the apprehension of that contact.
No battery if there is EXPRESS or IMPLIED consent.
Causes an injury, physical impairment, pain, or illness.
A person of ORDINARY SENSIBILITIES (reasonable person) would find the contact offensive.
Defendant might be liable if AWARE that victim is hyper-sensative but acts nonetheless.
Plaintiff's Person (Battery)
Contact with anything connected to the plaintiff's person qualifies as contact with the person.
Eggshell Plaintiff Rule (Battery)
Defendant is NOT required to foresee the extent of the damages to be liable for all damages.
Damages (Battery and Proof of Actual Harm; Can nominal damages be recovered?)
No proof of actual harm is required. Nominal Damages can be recovered.
Punitive Damages (Battery)
Many states allow punitive damages if the defendant acted:
With malice (i.e., wrongful motive); OR
Plaintiff's reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive bodily contact caused by the defendant.
Defendant must act with the intent to either cause:
That apprehension; or
The contact itself
Plaintiff's Apprehension (Assault)
Must be reasonable.
Plaintiff must be aware of or have knowledge of the defendant's act.
Actual fear is NOT required--only reasonable apprehension of an imminent contact.
Must be without significant delay;
Threats of future harm are not sufficient.
No proof of actual damages is required.
Plaintiff can recover nominal damages.
Plaintiff can also recover damages from physical harm flowing from the imminent apprehension (e.g., plaintiff suffers a heart attack).
A defendant is liable for INTENTIONALLY or RECKLESSLY acting with EXTREME or OUTRAGEOUS conduct that causes the plaintiff severe emotional distress. (Courts are hesitant to recognize this tort).
The defendant must intend to cause severe emotional distress or at least be reckless as to the risk of causing extreme emotional distress.
Extreme or Outrageous Conduct (IIED)
Exceeds the limits of common decency so as to be intolerable to society. Mere insults, indignities, or threats are NOT enough.
COURTS ARE MORE LIKELY TO FIND CONDUCT OR LANGUAGE TO BE EXTREME OR OUTRAGEOUS IF:
1. DEFENDANT IS IN A POSITION OF AUTHORITY OR INFLUENCE OVER THE PLAINTIFF; OR
2. PLAINTIFF IS A MEMBER OF A GROUP THAT HAS A HEIGHTENED SENSITIVITY.
Conduct Directed toward Third Party (IIED)
Conduct directed at third-party victim, not the person who suffers the distress.
>>>If conduct is directed at a member of the victim's immediate family who is present at the time of the conduct, and the defendant is aware of that presence, then that person can be liable, whether or not there has been physical injury.<<<
>>>If there is a bystander who is present at the time of the conduct and the defendant is aware of that bystander's presence, and that bystander suffers distress that results in bodily injury, then that person can be liable.<<<
Severe Emotional Distress (IIED)
Plaintiff must prove severe emotion distress beyond what a reasonable person could endure.
Physical injury is NOT required (except in the case of a bystander other than a family member).
Defendant acts intending to confine or restrain another within boundaries fixed by the defendant;
The actions DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY result in confinement; and
Plaintiff is aware of the confinement OR harmed by it.
A shopkeeper can detain a suspected shoplifter without being considered false imprisonment.
Intent (False Imprisonment)
Defendant must act:
With the purpose of confining the plaintiff; or
With knowledge that the plaintiff's confinement is substantially certain to result.
Confinement due to defendant's negligence
Defendant will NOT be liable under the intentional tort of false imprisonment (could be liable under negligence).
Damages (False Imprisonment)
Actual damages are not required.
Nominal damages can be recovered, unless the plaintiff is not aware of the confinement.
Defenses to Intentional Torts
Consent (Express or Implied);
Defense of Others; and
Privilege of Arrest.
Plaintiff, by words or actions, manifests a willingness to submit to the conduct.
Defendant's conduct cannot exceed the scope of the consent.
Consent by mistake
Is valid unless the defendant CAUSED the mistake or KNEW OF IT and took advantage of it.
Consent by fraud
Is invalid if it goes to an essential matter.
If fraud goes to a collateral matter, then the consent is valid.
Consent obtain under duress (threats or physical force)
Threats of economic duress will NOT make consent invalid. (Economic threats will make the consent valid).
You have impliedly consented:
-When a reasonable person would object and you are silent; or
-When you enter into circumstances when you are signaling indirectly your willingness to endure certain conduct.
Injuries arising out of athletic competitions
Only liable if the conduct is reckless.
In this context, reckless means conduct outside of the normal scope of the sport.
Lack of capacity (e.g., due to youth, intoxication, incompetency, etc.) may undermine the validity of consent.
A person may use reasonable force to defend against an offensive contact or bodily harm.
Force must be reasonably proportionate to the anticipated harm.
A reasonable mistaken belief about a threat will be a valid defense.
Recapture of Chattels
Reasonable force may be used to reclaim personal property that has been wrongfully taken by another.
If the original taking was lawful and the current possessor has merely retained possession beyond the time consented to, then only peaceful means may be used.
Force to Regain Possession of Land
Common Law: reasonable force permitted.
Modern Rule: Use of force is no longer permitted.
Parent may use reasonable force or impose reasonable confinement as necessary to discipline their child.
Privilege of Arrest (Private Citizen)
Permitted to use force to make an arrest in the case of a felony IF:
The felony has actually been committed; AND
The arresting party has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person being arrested has committed the felony.
-Reasonable mistake as to identity is permissible, but not a mistake as to whether the felony was actually committed.
Privilege of Arrest (Misdemeanor)
Arrest may ONLY be made if there is a "breach of the peace."
Trespass to Chattels
An intentional interference with the plaintiff's right to chattels either by:
Dispossessing the plaintiff; or
Using or intermeddling with the plaintiff's use of the chattel.
Trespass to Chattels (Intent)
Only the intent to do the interfering act is necessary.
Defendant need not have intended to interfere with another's possession of tangible property.
Mistake about the legality of the action is NOT a defense.
Trespass to Chattels (Damages)
Dispossession: Plaintiff may recover for the actual damages caused and the loss of the use of the goods.
Use or Intermeddling: Plaintiff can only recover the actual damages. (Includes diminution in value or the cost of repair).
Defendant intentionally commits an act depriving the plaintiff of possession of his or her chattel or interfering with the plaintiff's chattel in a matter so serious as to deprive the plaintiff entirely of the use of the chattel.
Plaintiff can recover the chattel's FULL VALUE at the time of the conversion.
Defendant must ONLY intend to commit the act that interferes.
Mistake of law or fact is NOT a defense.
Can occur by exercising dominion and control over the plaintiff's chattel.
If the original acquisition was not wrongful, then plaintiff must first demand return of chattel before suing for conversion.
Trespass to Chattels vs. Conversion
Conversion--Interference to such a degree that defendant should have to pay the full value.
Trespass to Land
Defendant intentionally causes a physical invasion of someone's land.
Trespass to Land (Intent)
Defendant need only have the intent to enter the land or cause a physical invasion.
NOT the intent to commit a wrongful trespass.
Mistake of fact is NOT a defense.
Trespass vs. Nuisance
Trespass - Always involves an actual physical invasion or intrusion upon the land.
Nuisance - May or may not involve a physical invasion or intrusion.
Trespass to Land (Damages)
No proof of actual damages is required.
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