LAW 511-002 – Torts I

Intentional Tort


Intent

Intent exists when the defendant acts with knowledge that there is a substantial certainty that the outcome will occur.

  • (On a test, replace "outcome" with the specific harm for that tort.)

Minors have the same standard of intent as adults.

Transferred Intent

Intent transfers between the five torts that fell under writ of trespass:

Nominative and punitive damages can be sought without compensatory damages in an action based on an intentional tort.

List of Intentional Torts
Battery

Battery is an intentional touching of another in an offensive or harmful manner.

No injury is required.

Offensive

Offensiveness is whether it is offensive to an ordinary person, not to one unduly sensitive as to personal dignity. Time, place, circumstances, and people are considered.

Touching an item is considered touching the person if he is holding or otherwise in intimate contact with the item.

Assault

Assault is an intentional putting of another in apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.

False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is:

  1. intentionally
  2. confining or restraining another
  3. in a bounded area, and
    • not a bounded area if there is a reasonable means of escape
      • Must be apparent or known
      • Can't involve exposure or danger to clothes, self, or others
  4. plaintiff is aware of the confinement.
    • or harmed under Restatement of Torts

The individual may be restrained by force or threat of force. Moral persuasion does not constitute force or threat of force.

Conviction of the crime arrested for is a defense for false imprisonment.

Private citizens can legally detain others. They are only liable for helping police if it is not requested.

Shopkeeper's Privilege

A shopkeeper has the privilege to detain a person for a reasonable investigation when he reasonably believes that person has shoplifted.

A investigation's reasonableness is determined by whether it was inside or outside, how long it lasted, and what the shopkeeper did to investigate.

The majority rule says that a shopkeeper cannot condition release on confession to the crime or payment.

Reasonable force, short of bodily harm, may be used to detain the suspected shoplifter.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

[F]our elements . . . must coalesce to impose liability for intentional infliction of emotional distress:

  1. The conduct must be intentional or reckless;
  2. The conduct must be extreme and outrageous;
  3. There must be a causal connection between the wrongful conduct and the emotional distress;
  4. The emotional distress must be severe.
Outrageous Conduct

Outrageous conduct is "so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community." It is so severe that a person of ordinary sensibilities would suffer emotional distress.

For a defendant to be liable for injury to a close relative of the plaintiff's, the plaintiff must have been present and a close relative, and the defendant must have known that the plaintiff was present and a close relative.

The Restatement 2nd of Torts gives an alternative where the plaintiff also received harm.

If the vulnerability is apparent or known to the defendant, the plaintiff's particular vulnerability will be taken into consideration.

Sometimes IIED is called "outrage".

Cannot be liable for for both NIED and IIED.

Trespass to Land

Trespass to land is the:

  1. unauthorized
  2. entry onto
    • Volitional act
  3. the land of another
    • Mistake is not a defense.

Trespass is a tort against the possessor of the land.

Related causes of action:

  • Ejectment

    Ejectment is a cause of action similar to trespass filed by the owner of land against someone who is wrongly possessing the land.

  • Quiet Title

    An action to quiet title is a cause of action similar to trespass filed by the owner of land against someone who falsely claims to possess the owner's land.

  • Nuisance

    Nuisance is a cause of action similar to trespass filed by the possessor of land against someone who creates a condition that interferes with the possessor's use or enjoyment of the property.

Air travel is only a trespass when an aircraft "enters into the immediate reaches of the air space next to the land and . . . interferes substantially with the other's use and enjoyment of the land."

Trespass to Chattel

Trespass to chattel is the:

  1. intentional
  2. interference with or dispossession of
  3. the chattel of another
  4. resulting in damage thereto.
    • Dispossession itself can be a damage if it is for a sufficient length of time.

A victim of a trespass to chattel must accept the return of the chattel.

Conversion

Conversion is the:

  1. intentional
  2. exercise of dominion of control
    • There must be very substantial deprivation of possession rights.
      § 222A What Constitutes Conversion
      1. In determining the seriousness of the interference and the justice of requiring the actor to pay the full value, the following factors are important:
        1. the extent and duration of the actor's exercise of dominion or control;
        2. the actor's intent to assert a right in fact inconsistent with the other's right of control;
        3. the actor's good faith;
        4. the extent and duration of the resulting interference with the other's right of control;
        5. the harm done to the chattel;
        6. the inconvenience and expense caused to the other.
      § 223 Ways of Committing Conversion

      A conversion may be committed by intentionally

      1. dispossessing another of a chattel as stated in §§ 221 and 222;
      2. destroying or altering a chattel as stated in § 226;
      3. using a chattel as stated in §§ 227 and 228;
      4. receiving a chattel as stated in §§ 229 and 231;
      5. disposing of a chattel as stated in § 233;
      6. misdelivering a chattel as stated in §§ 234 and 235;
      7. refusing to surrender a chattel as stated in §§ 237-241.
  3. over the chattel of another
  4. which substantially interferes with the other's right of control.

In conversion, the convertor takes and uses the chattel as his own, affecting the chattel in a way inconsistent with the rights of the true owner.

Damages are the market value at the time of the conversion.

Nominal damages are allowed for conversion.

Using the chattel of another beyond the scope permitted can constitute a conversion.

  1. Information gathered and arranged at some cost and sold as a commodity on the market
  2. Ideas formulated with labor and inventive genius, as in the case of literary works or scientific researches
  3. Instruments of fair and effective commercial competition

A good faith purchaser for value can be a convertor if the seller stole the item.

  • A bona fide purchaser is protected in a sale from a merchant "who deals in good of that kind".
  • In fraud, title does not pass, so the good faith purchaser is not a convertor.

True owner's right to rescind is terminated when title and possession is passed.

Privilege

A defense to an intentional tort is called a privilege.

Self-defense
Shopkeeper's Privilege

A shopkeeper has the privilege to detain a person for a reasonable investigation when he reasonably believes that person has shoplifted.

A investigation's reasonableness is determined by whether it was inside or outside, how long it lasted, and what the shopkeeper did to investigate.

The majority rule says that a shopkeeper cannot condition release on confession to the crime or payment.

Reasonable force, short of bodily harm, may be used to detain the suspected shoplifter.

Necessity

Necessity is a privilege that allows for trespass or destruction of property to preserve a greater interest.

There is public necessity and private necessity.

Public Necessity

Public necessity is a privilege that allows for trespass or destruction of property to avert an apparent public disaster.

Public necessity requires an imminent danger and a real public necessity.

Plaintiff cannot recover if there was a public necessity unless the tort constituted a taking.

Private Necessity

Private necessity allows for the destruction of another's property to preserve one's own property.

Private necessity allows for recovery of actual damages, but not for trespass.

Authority of Law

Authority of law is a privilege for tortious conduct when the defendant is authorized by law do the conduct.

Authority of law is not a valid defense if excessive force is used in carrying out the conduct.

Discipline

A number of relationships in which the necessity of some orderly discipline give person who have the control of others the privilege of exercising reasonable force and restraint upon them.

What force is reasonable is determined by the child's age, sex, and the seriousness of the behavior.

Justification

The privilege of justification is a generic term for a defense to a tort in circumstances where it would be unfair to hold defendant liable when no traditional defense applies.