o Causation: Δ must actually bring about the act that causes the anticipation.
o Conditional threats can constitute assault the reason hinging on legal right. (ex. A points a gun at B's head and says give me your wallet or I'll shoot you, it's an assault because A has no legal right to demand the money) Flipside: (ex. A catches B breaking into his house and says, "get out or I'll throw you out", no assault because A has a legal right to throw B out). This is true unless Δ threatens unreasonable force in presenting the choice between contact and compliance.
o Defendant must have the apparent ability to carry out the act.
o Words alone don't constitute assault, there must be an over act.
Some treatises (and Prof. Chriscoe) think that is too strict, it should be left up to the Reasonable Person test.
Words can negate assault (ex. "I would hit you if the policeman wasn't right here").
o Plaintiff must be aware of the danger for there to be assault
o Threat to third person not actionable. The plaintiff must have an apprehension that they themselves will be subjected to bodily contact.
o Assault is not an attempted battery in and of itself, but an attempted battery is always an assault.
o Assault complete as soon as there is apprehension, it matters not if the Δ abandoned the attempt.
o Damages: same as for Battery, Π eligible for 1) Nominal, 2) Mental Suffering, 3) Punitive if the Δ's conduct is sufficiently outrageous.
1. Nature of Confinement
Plaintiff must be confined within definite physical boundaries
Blocking someone's path is not enough
Plaintiff is held within certain limits, not that he may be prevented from entering certain places (matters not that the prevention from entering was legal or not).
2. Means by which Confinement Enforced
1) Physical Constraint
• ropes, tape, chains, cage, locked in room, etc.
• size of "bounded area" irrelevant, person could actually be bound to a "city" or "county", must use reasonable person test in these instances.
2) Use of Threats or Duress
• Threats of future harm don't work. The harm must be imminent (ex. "if you don't stay in this room, I'll come to your house tonight and have you arrested")
• If plaintiff's confinement is due solely to their desire to clear themselves of suspicion, there is no false imprisonment
• If plaintiff voluntarily submits to commands that are strictly verbal, unaccompanied by force or threats, there is no false imprisonment.
3) Threat to Harm Others
• ex. threat to harm spouse or child
4) Threat to/Holding of Property
• if one personal property is seized and held (ex. a woman's purse)
5) Undue influence
• If person is vulnerable, i.e. old lady
6) Confinement Upon a Duty to Release
• Rest home where patient wants to leave and can contractually but is not allowed to, jail where the sentence is up, usually in a custodial relationship
• Also can be when someone consents to confinement but later wants out and you have the ability to let them out. Whittaker v. Sanford
7) Assertion of Legal Authority
• Irrelevant whether the asserted legal authority is in fact valid or invalid, it only matters that the plaintiff believes or is in reasonable doubt that the Δ has legal authority.
• Actual submission is necessary, the mere assertion of legal authority will be sufficient if the plaintiff submits to the confinement, but if the plaintiff refuses to submit, and leaves, then there is no false imprisonment.
• Conviction is the perfect defense for a charge of false imprisonment stemming from a false or improper/invalid arrest
1. Acquiring possession:
a. Bona fide Purchaser: Most courts hold that a bona fide purchaser of stolen goods is a converter, even if there is no way he could have known that they were stolen.
• Negotiable instruments: However taking a negotiable instrument in good faith doesn't make a person liable for conversion if it was stolen. This is necessary to protect the complete negotiability of checks, notes, etc.
b. Transfer of goods procured by fraud:
c. Bailment of converted goods: Rule made for owners of parking garage and warehouses, good only where bailee has no knowledge that the goods belong to someone else.
d. Agent or servant, who accepts goods on behalf of his principal employer is treated the same as a bailee, as long as he has not negotiated the transaction whereby he takes possession.
2. Removal of goods
One who removes goods from one place to another may be liable for conversion, if the removal constitutes a sufficiently serious interference with the plaintiff's right to possession and control. This is a question of degree.
3. Transferring the chattel
The Δ can also commit conversion by transferring a chattel to one who is not entitled to it. Thus messenger service which delivers a package to the wrong person, or an auctioneer who sells stolen goods, or a parking lot attendant who gives a car to an imposter, are all converters (if the interference with the owner's rights is sufficiently severe).
Bailee's receive special protection: They can return goods to their rightful owner if they find it out and can return goods to a thief if they don't find out they were stolen, all without liability. But if the true owner demands them back the bailee must return them or face liability for conversion.
4. Withholding goods
The Δ may commit conversion by refusing to return goods to their owner. Again based on severity of interference.
5. Destruction or alteration of goods
clearest cut forms of conversion
Partial alteration, may not count as conversion, depends upon cost of repair and circumstances (i.e. taking ones tire from a car is not conversion of the car because replacing a tire is simple and relatively inexpensive compared to replacing a car, however taking a tire from a car in the desert will probably be conversion of the car).
6. Use of Chattel
depends on degree (i.e. used car dealer drives a consigned car 10 miles - no conversion, he drives it 2,000 - conversion).
7. Taking of information
Usually in the form of copying not of taking the original
Information taken must have commercial value and the copying have substantially diminished the value for it to be considered conversion.
8. Assertion of ownership
Mere assertion of ownership is not enough to convert. There must be an actual interference with the plaintiff's right of possession.