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					5: Assault, False Imprisonment
Monday, January 23, 2012
5:51 PM

Reading Notes:
Assault, False Imprisonment 20-28
     Vetter v. Morgan
     Herbst v. Wuennenberg

     Battery and Assault are both intentional torts
     Elements of assault:
        o Defendant 1) intended to cause apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive bodily
           contact or 2) intended to cause harmful or offensive bodily contact

Vetter v. Morgan

Judge/Justice: Briscoe

FACTS: Laura Vetter (P) sued Chad Morgan (D) for injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
Chad was screaming at P, threatening her and spitting on her car at an intersection. Claims it was to
amuse friends. When light turned green, P claims driver of D's car swerved into her lane, causing
her to hit curb, injuring head and neck. D denies car swerved.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Summary judgment dismissal due to no evidence of threat or attempt to

ISSUE: Are there issues of fact that require a jury rather than summary judgment as matter of law?

  Assault is "an intentional threat or attempt, coupled with apparent ability, to do bodily harm
    to another, resulting in immediate apprehension of bodily harm. No bodily contact is
  Words can constitute assault if together with other acts or circumstances they put the other in
    reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact with his person -

HOLDING: reversed

  Threat was clearly possible or reasonable to assume
  It was late at night, and rescue was unlikely
  Possible that the kids could have broken the window
  Ability to defend self (driving off, self-defense) does not preclude an assault.
  Must be decided by a jury, not as a matter of law
Class Notes:
    Trial judge thinks there was no real threat of immediate harm
        o However, the kid verbally threatened to take Vetter out of her van
        o Law of assault requires an apparent ability to carry it out
    If the law protect people from physical harm, why not make that a hard rule without
        o One size fits all remedies vs. specifically defined prohibited acts
    Negligence begins with a very vague, expansive formula
        o If you fail to use reasonable care and your act injures someone, you are liable
    Intent - does not mean you intended result - only knew that it was going to happen

False Imprisonment

Herbst v. Wuennenberg

Judge/Justice: Abrahamson

FACTS: Carol Wuennenberg is an alderman in Madison. P's were comparing voter roles to residents
in building to purge voter lists. The P's agree to leave when Wuennenberg confronts them, but she
then asks for their names, and may have blocked the front door while her husband calls the police.
They did not ask for permission to leave, she did not threaten them, and she did not intimidate

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Jury finds Wuennenberg falsely imprisoned Jason Herbst, et. al.

ISSUE: Were they actually imprisoned?

RULE: False imprisonment is the intentional, unlawful and unconsented restraint by one person of
the physical liberty of another against his/her will (without consent).

HOLDING: Reversed - no credible evidence to sustain finding

  Restatement definition of confinement:
      o Barriers - actual or apparent physical barriers (Sec 38)
      o Overpowering physical force or by submission to physical force (Sec 39)
      o Submission to a threat to apply physical force upon attempted escape (40)
      o Threat of infliction of duress upon another, upon property, etc (41)
  Requires the intention and ability to apply force
  Cannot consent to remain within limits set by actor
  By not asking her to move, the P's consented - merely speculation to assume she would not
    have moved out of the way
  No apprehension of force, so they were not imprisoned
      o No confinement

    Confinement must be a limit within a boundary - cannot be exclusion from a place
    Cannot have a reasonable means of escape
    Must be aware of the imprisonment at the time or the confinement must cause actual harm
    Falsely directing the police to arrest the wrong person may constitute false imprisonment

Class Notes:
    Plaintiffs point to defendant blocking the door
       o Court says there was no dispute of fact, but there was - where her hand blocking the
       o A slight change in the facts might very well change the result
    She wants the plaintiffs to stay there until they identify themselves to police - she wants to
     confine them
       o She said she didn't want anyone to run away
       o She has no legal right to hold them there
       o Court: she didn't have the ability
    Person confined does not have to use force to test confinement
       o Would run the risk of requiring them to be liable for their own actions in testing
       o D implicitly answered the question by standing in the doorway

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