Intentional Torts

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					Intentional Torts, Essential Elements of Plaintiff’s Case

1. An violable act, 2. With the intent to cause a contact with a person which is harmful or offensive, or with the intent to cause the imminent apprehension of such contact, --- Offensive contact: Contact which a reasonable person in the plaintiff’s shoes would find to be offensive. Surrounding circumstances, including words spoken, can aid jury in determining offensiveness. 3. Causing, --- Indirect causation is sufficient. 4. A harmful or offensive contact with the person. ---Contact with the person includes contact with something that the plaintiff is holding. ---Fisher v. Carrousel Motor Hotel: Anything grasped in one’s hand can be considered part of the person.

1. An over act, --- Open to plaintiff; not just words alone or hidden behavior (Ex. Bringing a gun in one’s pocket to a meeting is not assault). 2. With the intent to cause a contact with a person which is harmful or offensive,

or with the intent to cause the imminent apprehension of such contact,
--- It is not necessary that the defendant actually be able to carry out the act.

3. Causing, 4. A reasonable, imminent apprehension of such contact. --- Not just fear, but anticipation. --- Western Union Telegraph v. Hill: Clock repair man reaches across counter in sexual advance at female customer. Jury issue: Could he have reached over counter and touch her? Actual issue: Could plaintiff have experienced a reasonable apprehension of contact?

Intentional Torts, Essential Elements of Plaintiff’s Case

---An omission to act can fulfill element, as long as there is a duty to act, which can be created by an agreement (Whittaker v. Sanford: transport of woman from Tel Aviv to USA by cult leader) or by status relationship (Ex. Person in control of premises has duty to act over other individuals in building.). ---Duty to act can be superseded by reasonableness of omission (Ex. Airlines do not have to stop planes on tarmac to let off passengers).

2. With the intent to confine within boundaries,
--- Confinement can be established by the plaintiff’s reasonable belief that he cannot leave. (Hardy v. LaBelle’s Dist. Co.: Sales clerk kept in office to determine innocence in case of a missing watch.) ---Fear, desire to clear name, risk of loss of job, a threat to call police, submission to persuasion, and a threat of future action are usually not sufficient to establish false imprisonment.

3. Causing, 4. The confinement of plaintiff within boundaries, --- Restatement 36: Means of escape is unreasonable if it involves exposure of the person,
material harm to clothing, or a danger of substantial harm to another.

5. With Plaintiff’s awareness of the confinement OR plaintiff’s harm from such confinement. --- Parvi v. City of Kingston: Drunken men left on public golf course to dry out, Rule: It does not
matter whether a plaintiff can later recall the experience, as long as victim is aware of imprisonment at time it is happening.

Intentional Torts, Essential Elements of Plaintiff’s Case

---Court must determine whether an average member of the community upon learning of the facts alleged by plaintiff would exclaim, “Outrageous!”

---Plaintiff’s sensitivity may be factor in determining whether defendant’s conduct is outrageous.
Is insult from girl to Marine?

2. Intentionally or recklessly,
---INTENT is calculation to cause severe emotional distress to a person of ordinary sensibilities in the absence of knowledge or notice of special sensitivity in Plaintiff; ---Slocum v. Food Fair Stores 1958: Store owner not held liable for heart attack of employee, which she claimed was triggered by emotional distress the boss caused her when he insulted her work. No liability because boss had no knowledge of her heart condition and no intent to cause severe emotional distress. ---RECKLESSNESS is calculation to cause severe emotional distress to a person of ordinary sensibilities with the knowledge or notice of a special sensitivity in Plaintiff; ---Exception to intent requirement in common law: recovery allowed against acts of common carriers without regard to intent or harm. ---Special requirements for intent when victim views an act against another (Exception exists in acts which are extremely outrageous, such as mutilating the dead):  Plaintiff must be family member of the injured,  Plaintiff must be watching when injury occurs, and  Defendant must know plaintiff is watching when act occurs.

3. Causing,
--- Harris v. Jones: Stuttering employee ridiculed by boss and others to point of increasing previous nervous condition. Case for emotional distress dismissed because of failure to prove that particular actions of Defendant caused emotional response of Plaintiff, even though boss had knowledge of special sensitivity.

4. Severe emotional distress.
--- State Rubbish Collectors v. Siliznoff 1952: F: Plaintiff threatened physical threat on Defendant for payment of union dues. In contrast to previous Restatement provisions, Siliznoff court holds Defendant liable for cause of fright only, not requiring any resulting bodily harm.

Intentional Torts, Essential Elements of Plaintiff’s Case

TRESPASS TO LAND 1. An act; ---Restatement Second 165: Trespass is invasion of interest in right to exclusive
possession of land.

---Must be TANGIBLE ITEM for trespass. Intangible items are nuisance.
---Bradley v. American Smelting Co. 1985: Landowners around refinery sue for trespass of airborne particles of heavy metals. Court rules particles which accumulate on land and remain are trespass; but in this case, landowners must prove actual and substantial damage to recover so that refinery will be protected from potentially rampant claims.

2. With the intent to enter or remain on land;
---STRICT LIABILITY ACT: Every unauthorized and therefore unlawful entry into the close of another is a trespass. ---Doughtery v. Stepp 1835: Defendant came onto Plaintiff’s land with means to survey it, claiming that the land was his own. Trial remanded to determine damages, even though no harm done to land. ---Rogers v. Board of Road Com’rs 1947: Anchor of snow fence left on Plaintiff’s land past its agreed welcome; Plaintiff’s husband killed when tractor hits fence. Rule: Trespass is not vitiated by initial consent of owner to entry or remaining on land. Also, because this is intentional tort, extended consequences rule applies-holding Defendant liable for harm which he could not have foreseen.

3. Causing; 4. The entry or remaining on land in which plaintiff has a possessory interest by the defendant, a third person, or a thing. ---“Land extends in indefinite extent upwards as well as downwards.” Owner of realty is
entitled to free and unfettered control of his land, above and below. ---Herrin v. Sutherland 1925: Defendant liable for firing bullet across Plaintiff’s land; bullet was tangible item, crossing area under interest of Plaintiff. ---Exception with regard to air travel: (Restatement Second 159) air travel is trespass only if it enters into immediate reaches of air space next to land and interferes substantially with the others’ use and enjoyment of land.

Intentional Torts, Essential Elements of Plaintiff’s Case


2. Negligently or intentionally;
---Different culpability requirement from trespass---not strict liability!!!

3. Causing; 4. A substantial, unreasonable interference with plaintiff’s use or enjoyment of plaintiff’s land.
---Must prove substantial interference---unlike trespass, not just any entry will do!!! ---Special factors employed in determining reasonableness: * Social use of land or action of defendant * Who was there first?

TRESPASS TO CHATTELS 1. An act; 2. With intent to affect a chattel;
---STRICT LIABILITY as in trespass to land, no room for negligence.

---Glidden v. Szybiak 1949: F: Dog bites girl on nose in front of candy store. If someone else’s
dog causes damage to you or your property, owner is liable as long as you were not in commission of trespass or other tort.

3. Causing; 4. Actual damages to a chattel in which plaintiff has possessory interest, or Loss of its use for a substantial time, or Injury to plaintiff/person/thing in which plaintiff has a legally protected interest. ---Measure of damages = diminution in value of chattel, plus chattel returned.
---Compuserv v. Cyber Promotions 1997: Trespass to chattel found in spam causes damaging interference with Compuserv’s file service, costing subscriber’s money.

Intentional Torts, Essential Elements of Plaintiff’s Case

CONVERSION 1. An act; 2. With the intent to exercise dominion or control over a chattel; 3. Causing; 4. An interference with the right of the plaintiff to control the chattel;
---Unlike trespass to chattel, conversion requires only interference with nominal damages.

5. And the interference is so serious that the defendant may be justly required to pay the plaintiff the full value of the chattel. Any of the following may be of sufficient seriousness to justify this remedy:  The defendant’s exercise of dominion and control for a substantial amount of time,  Substantial harm done to the chattel,  Substantial inconvenience and expense cause to the plaintiff; or  The defendant’s intent to assert a right that defendant knows is inconsistent with the plaintiff’s right of control. ---Measure of damages = value of the whole or return of chattel.
---Pearson v. Dodd 1969: Senator’s papers taken from office, copied, and returned; info on papers given to reporter. No damages for conversion, because files not kept, just copied and ideas on paper were not type protected by property law (info gathered at some cost and sold as commodity, ideas formulated with labor and inventive genius, or info which is instrument of fair and effective commercial competition).

* Defendant’s good faith, under rare circumstances, may be a defense to conversion. * Only way to have conversion w/o trespass to chattels = exercising dominion w/o damage.

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