Torts Question

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
Huluba23
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:28 pm

Torts Question

Postby Huluba23 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:08 pm

Hi there,

Can someone please help me out with this question.

With regard to battery, what is the intent needed? Is it just intent to make physical contact as long as the contact is harmful or offensive or does the intent have to be to make harmful or offensive contact?

Thanx

User avatar
Doritos
Posts: 1232
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:24 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby Doritos » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:12 pm

From what I understand it differs depending on the rule adopted by the court. In the Vosburg v. Putney case the rule is intent for the harmful and/or offensive contact. In the 2nd RST the consequences have to be intended or substantially certain to occur. So it is not just the contact that is intended but the consequences as well. So it seems to be Vosburg rule v. 2nd RST rule (and 3rd RST agrees with this as well but I do not think it has been adopted anywhere). HTH and hope I'm right

Huluba23
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:28 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby Huluba23 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:15 pm

Im confused.

I just read a case that clearly said that the contact need only be intentional regardless of whether the intent was harmful or not.

User avatar
BigFatPanda
Posts: 319
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:47 am

Re: Torts Question

Postby BigFatPanda » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:18 pm

Just the intent to make harmful or offensive contact is needed to fulfill the intent requirement. Lambertson v. US and Vosburg v. Putney made that very clear.

THe lesson here is, although i only intended to cause you harm A but you suffered harm B, i can't argue as a defense that because i only intended harm A, i do not fulfill the intent requirement for causing harm B.

Scenario:
If you pissed me off and i pushed you but i never intent for the harm to be any more than just a push. Nevertheless, you fell down a flight of stairs and paralyzed for life. Because my act of pushing you is unlawful, my intent to push you is also unlawful and as such, i am responsible for causing your paralysis and the intent requirement of tort is establish regardless of whether or not i intended to just push you or want to cause you paralysis.

Huluba23
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:28 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby Huluba23 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:24 pm

But in the case of Wagner v. State the court seems to say that only intent to make contact at all is needed, not the intent to make harmful or offensive contact. As long as the end result is offensive contact isnt someone liable regardless of whether the intent was offensive or not?

User avatar
Doritos
Posts: 1232
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:24 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby Doritos » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:27 pm

BigFatPanda wrote:Just the intent to make harmful or offensive contact is needed to fulfill the intent requirement. Lambertson v. US and Vosburg v. Putney made that very clear.

THe lesson here is, although i only intended to cause you harm A but you suffered harm B, i can't argue as a defense that because i only intended harm A, i do not fulfill the intent requirement for causing harm B.

Scenario:
If you pissed me off and i pushed you but i never intent for the harm to be any more than just a push. Nevertheless, you fell down a flight of stairs and paralyzed for life. Because my act of pushing you is unlawful, my intent to push you is also unlawful and as such, i am responsible for causing your paralysis and the intent requirement of tort is establish regardless of whether or not i intended to just push you or want to cause you paralysis.


That is the Vosburg standard. This is a quote from the Epstein Tort book pg. 8..."The Second Restatement uses the term intention 'to denote that the actor desires to cause consequences of his act, or that he believes that the consequences are substaintailly certain to result from it' RST §8A"

This is what my prof has told us. In the RST you have to intend the consequences or be substantially certain that they will occur. The prof said some read the 2nd RST to be the same as the Vosburg rule but my prof says the correct way is to differentiate.

User avatar
BigFatPanda
Posts: 319
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:47 am

Re: Torts Question

Postby BigFatPanda » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:27 pm

Huluba23 wrote:But in the case of Wagner v. State the court seems to say that only intent to make contact at all is needed, not the intent to make harmful or offensive contact. As long as the end result is offensive contact isnt someone liable regardless of whether the intent was offensive or not?


Exactly, battery can be committed even with the best of intentions. If A broke her arm and B wishes to help A, but A refuses B's aid but B proceeds to render aid, the intent to commit battery is established.

User avatar
BigFatPanda
Posts: 319
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:47 am

Re: Torts Question

Postby BigFatPanda » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:38 pm

Doritos wrote:
BigFatPanda wrote:Just the intent to make harmful or offensive contact is needed to fulfill the intent requirement. Lambertson v. US and Vosburg v. Putney made that very clear.

THe lesson here is, although i only intended to cause you harm A but you suffered harm B, i can't argue as a defense that because i only intended harm A, i do not fulfill the intent requirement for causing harm B.

Scenario:
If you pissed me off and i pushed you but i never intent for the harm to be any more than just a push. Nevertheless, you fell down a flight of stairs and paralyzed for life. Because my act of pushing you is unlawful, my intent to push you is also unlawful and as such, i am responsible for causing your paralysis and the intent requirement of tort is establish regardless of whether or not i intended to just push you or want to cause you paralysis.


That is the Vosburg standard. This is a quote from the Epstein Tort book pg. 8..."The Second Restatement uses the term intention 'to denote that the actor desires to cause consequences of his act, or that he believes that the consequences are substaintailly certain to result from it' RST §8A"

This is what my prof has told us. In the RST you have to intend the consequences or be substantially certain that they will occur. The prof said some read the 2nd RST to be the same as the Vosburg rule but my prof says the correct way is to differentiate.


If we are to narrowly limit this "desires to cause consequence or that he believes that the consequence" to whatever consequence an actor intends to cause before he acts, then it would be against the very protection of what tort laws intend to provide.

For example, in Lambertson, the meat inspector (D) merely intend to jump the meat packer (P) as a joke and the intended harm is perhaps no more than causing the meat packer anxiety. If the restatement is to be narrowly interpreted, then P would not have been able to recover because D never intend to cause P to fell on a meat hook and suffer devastating consequences.

THerefore, a reasonable interpretation of the restatement on "consequence" would be, if an actor intends to cause a consequence, legally, the actor intends to cause whatever harmful consequence that results but for his acts.

Huluba23
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:28 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby Huluba23 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:40 pm

So the only intent that is needed is the intent to create contact? (not the intent to create harmful or offensive contact, just contact in general as long as the end result is offensive)?

User avatar
Doritos
Posts: 1232
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:24 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby Doritos » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:41 pm

BigFatPanda wrote:
Huluba23 wrote:But in the case of Wagner v. State the court seems to say that only intent to make contact at all is needed, not the intent to make harmful or offensive contact. As long as the end result is offensive contact isnt someone liable regardless of whether the intent was offensive or not?


Exactly, battery can be committed even with the best of intentions. If A broke her arm and B wishes to help A, but A refuses B's aid but B proceeds to render aid, the intent to commit battery is established.


Even if B did not intend a harmful or offensive contact? What if I did not mean a harmful or offensive contact but thought the contact was friendly? Like I went up and hugged someone. I intended to do a nice gesture and now they are saying I commited a battery. It seems to me that under the 2nd RST they would have to prove that I intended a harmful or offensive contact (as in I knew it was harmful or offensive) but under the Vosburg standard all you have to prove is that I committed a harmful or offensive contact.

User avatar
BigFatPanda
Posts: 319
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:47 am

Re: Torts Question

Postby BigFatPanda » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:47 pm

Huluba23 wrote:So the only intent that is needed is the intent to create contact? (not the intent to create harmful or offensive contact, just contact in general as long as the end result is offensive)?


Majority of the time, i think this is the case. However, i am sure there are always exceptions to this rule.

Also, if the restatement of tort is to be interprted narrowly, then the concept of "transfer intent" would not stand because if person A intends to hit person B, but person C got hit instead, then A will not be liable because A only intends to hit B. Surely, the law does not want such a narrow interpretation of intent.

lovelaw27
Posts: 218
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 6:35 am

Re: Torts Question

Postby lovelaw27 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:48 pm

The simple answer is when analyzing whether or not the intent element is satisfied you need to determine if the actor acted with the purpose to cause the contact.


This is my outline from tort one that is relevant to battery.

Intent
1 Actor has Purpose to cause a consequence.
2 Actor know that it’s substantially certain that consequences will result
Doctrine of transferred Intent
If someone has intent to perform a tort on one person, but the tort actually happens to someone else, it is said that the intent is transferred from the original person being targeted to the person who actually has the tort performed against him.

If someone attempts to perform one tort, but another tort actually occurs it is said the actor has intent to perform the tort that actually occurred.

Battery- is the (1) intent to cause (2)harmful or offensive (3) Contact
1 Intentional- defined above
2 Harmful can be defined as physical impairment.
OR
Offensive can be defined as hostile, insulting, violating a reasonable person’s sense of dignity.

3 Contact element can be satisfied when we have one of the following situations:
a. Body to Body
b. When something is closely connected with the body, contact with the something closely connected with the body will be viewed as if their is actually contact with the body itself.
c. Setting forces in motion that make contact. Like when you pull the trigger of a gun and a bullet hits someone.

User avatar
Doritos
Posts: 1232
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:24 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby Doritos » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:50 pm

BigFatPanda wrote:
Huluba23 wrote:So the only intent that is needed is the intent to create contact? (not the intent to create harmful or offensive contact, just contact in general as long as the end result is offensive)?


Majority of the time, i think this is the case. However, i am sure there are always exceptions to this rule.

Also, if the restatement of tort is to be interprted narrowly, then the concept of "transfer intent" would not stand because if person A intends to hit person B, but person C got hit instead, then A will not be liable because A only intends to hit B. Surely, the law does not want such a narrow interpretation of intent.


Yeah I think you are right. I must have gone astray at some point in class. I think the difference is intent. Like in the White v. University of Idaho case. He made the argument that he did not intend the contact to be harmful or offensive but the Idaho court said that they have never adopted the RST and decline to do so now. This makes me think that under the RST intent matters insofar that the Defendant meant for the harm to be harmful or offensive but in the Vosburg standard intent does not matter. Does this sound right? I need me some office hours...

User avatar
BigFatPanda
Posts: 319
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:47 am

Re: Torts Question

Postby BigFatPanda » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:51 pm

Doritos wrote:
BigFatPanda wrote:
Huluba23 wrote:But in the case of Wagner v. State the court seems to say that only intent to make contact at all is needed, not the intent to make harmful or offensive contact. As long as the end result is offensive contact isnt someone liable regardless of whether the intent was offensive or not?


Exactly, battery can be committed even with the best of intentions. If A broke her arm and B wishes to help A, but A refuses B's aid but B proceeds to render aid, the intent to commit battery is established.


Even if B did not intend a harmful or offensive contact? What if I did not mean a harmful or offensive contact but thought the contact was friendly? Like I went up and hugged someone. I intended to do a nice gesture and now they are saying I commited a battery. It seems to me that under the 2nd RST they would have to prove that I intended a harmful or offensive contact (as in I knew it was harmful or offensive) but under the Vosburg standard all you have to prove is that I committed a harmful or offensive contact.


If you and i are fraternity brothers and you hug me like that, there is a reasonable expectation between you and i that such an act will take place whenever we meet. Therefore, even if a reasonable person would deem this offensive, you do not have the intent to cause a battery.

However, if you and i are not fraternity brothers and i do find your act of hugging me offensive and a reasonable person would also find it offensive (just imagine a stranger hugging you without consent), then you intended a battery.

User avatar
BigFatPanda
Posts: 319
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:47 am

Re: Torts Question

Postby BigFatPanda » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:55 pm

Doritos wrote:
BigFatPanda wrote:
Huluba23 wrote:So the only intent that is needed is the intent to create contact? (not the intent to create harmful or offensive contact, just contact in general as long as the end result is offensive)?


Majority of the time, i think this is the case. However, i am sure there are always exceptions to this rule.

Also, if the restatement of tort is to be interprted narrowly, then the concept of "transfer intent" would not stand because if person A intends to hit person B, but person C got hit instead, then A will not be liable because A only intends to hit B. Surely, the law does not want such a narrow interpretation of intent.


Yeah I think you are right. I must have gone astray at some point in class. I think the difference is intent. Like in the White v. University of Idaho case. He made the argument that he did not intend the contact to be harmful or offensive but the Idaho court said that they have never adopted the RST and decline to do so now. This makes me think that under the RST intent matters insofar that the Defendant meant for the harm to be harmful or offensive but in the Vosburg standard intent does not matter. Does this sound right? I need me some office hours...


Restatement is not the law, its just an interpretation of the law by bunch of legal scholars. They serve as a useful reference but ultimately, it is the case law and actual judicial decisions that matters.

User avatar
Doritos
Posts: 1232
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:24 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby Doritos » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:59 pm

BigFatPanda wrote:
Doritos wrote:
BigFatPanda wrote:
Huluba23 wrote:So the only intent that is needed is the intent to create contact? (not the intent to create harmful or offensive contact, just contact in general as long as the end result is offensive)?


Majority of the time, i think this is the case. However, i am sure there are always exceptions to this rule.

Also, if the restatement of tort is to be interprted narrowly, then the concept of "transfer intent" would not stand because if person A intends to hit person B, but person C got hit instead, then A will not be liable because A only intends to hit B. Surely, the law does not want such a narrow interpretation of intent.


Yeah I think you are right. I must have gone astray at some point in class. I think the difference is intent. Like in the White v. University of Idaho case. He made the argument that he did not intend the contact to be harmful or offensive but the Idaho court said that they have never adopted the RST and decline to do so now. This makes me think that under the RST intent matters insofar that the Defendant meant for the harm to be harmful or offensive but in the Vosburg standard intent does not matter. Does this sound right? I need me some office hours...


Restatement is not the law, its just an interpretation of the law by bunch of legal scholars. They serve as a useful reference but ultimately, it is the case law and actual judicial decisions that matters.


It is law when courts adopt the RST though right? They have a way of formally adopting the RST as law in the court correct?

User avatar
manbearwig
Posts: 351
Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:38 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby manbearwig » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:10 pm

Doritos wrote:It is law when courts adopt the RST though right? They have a way of formally adopting the RST as law in the court correct?


A court can use the Restatement as persuasive authority and cite it in its opinions. However, only the holding of the case itself can become precedent and mandatory authority. Even if the court decided a case using just the Restatement, the Restatement isn't law, the holding is.

Huluba23
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:28 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby Huluba23 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:14 pm

Is it weird that I'm just as confused as when I asked the question?

Huluba23
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:28 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby Huluba23 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:17 pm

BigFatPanda wrote:
Huluba23 wrote:So the only intent that is needed is the intent to create contact? (not the intent to create harmful or offensive contact, just contact in general as long as the end result is offensive)?


Majority of the time, i think this is the case. However, i am sure there are always exceptions to this rule.

Also, if the restatement of tort is to be interprted narrowly, then the concept of "transfer intent" would not stand because if person A intends to hit person B, but person C got hit instead, then A will not be liable because A only intends to hit B. Surely, the law does not want such a narrow interpretation of intent.


Yes but the narrow definition would not except this case. The narrow definition would be that as long as harmful or offensive contact is intended then that could make one liable for battery regardless of who the action is directed to. Therefore, a narrow interpretation would still be somewhat acceptable.

Huluba23
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:28 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby Huluba23 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:17 pm

Also, thanx everyone for the answers.

Please keep it coming......

User avatar
Teoeo
Posts: 801
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:21 am

Re: Torts Question

Postby Teoeo » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:25 pm

I think the most direct answer to your question is that the intent must be satisfied by either desiring to cause the consequences of an act (Punching someone in the nose cause they piss you off) or b. to believe that the consequences are substantially certain to happen(eg. continuing to pour water over a balcony even though you saw a person walking beneath your apartment.)

There is still the matter of transferred intent etc. but that doesn't seem to be your question.

edit: in sum, no, you don't have to intend harm for it to be battery.

User avatar
GoodToBeTheKing
Posts: 296
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:34 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby GoodToBeTheKing » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:43 pm

Interesting hypothetical related to battery brought up by my professor:

A bunch of students are smoking cigarettes outside of a building. There is a "no smoking 10 feet from building" policy on campus. They are following the policy. Also, the policy is in no way limiting their "right to smoke" or "right to pursue their personal projects."

Person A walks outside and the group of smokers blow the smoke into person A's face.


Battery? That is, did this hypo satisfy element number 3?

For there to be battery the D must:
1. (1) act,
2. (2) act with intention to cause harmful or offensive contact,
3. (3) the act must cause a contact with the victim, and
4. (4) the intended contact must be either harmful or offensive to the victim.

User avatar
BigFatPanda
Posts: 319
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:47 am

Re: Torts Question

Postby BigFatPanda » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:49 pm

GoodToBeTheKing wrote:Interesting hypothetical related to battery brought up by my professor:

A bunch of students are smoking cigarettes outside of a building. There is a "no smoking 10 feet from building" policy on campus. They are following the policy. Also, the policy is in no way limiting their "right to smoke" or "right to pursue their personal projects."

Person A walks outside and the group of smokers blow the smoke into person A's face.


Battery? That is, did this hypo satisfy element number 3?

For there to be battery the D must:
1. (1) act,
2. (2) act with intention to cause harmful or offensive contact,
3. (3) the act must cause a contact with the victim, and
4. (4) the intended contact must be either harmful or offensive to the victim.



Glannon, in his E&E, actually explained that in certain jurisdiction smoking expels "harmful particulates" that would fulfill (3). Of course, there is no definite answer to this because courts in each state can twist and turn the interpretation of (3) in accordance to their own liking.

That is, there is no absolute answer when such hypo comes to mind. Just your analysis of how numerous jurisdictions dealt with similar scenarios and predict reasonably how the case will resolve itself.

User avatar
GoodToBeTheKing
Posts: 296
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:34 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby GoodToBeTheKing » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:52 pm

BigFatPanda wrote:
GoodToBeTheKing wrote:Interesting hypothetical related to battery brought up by my professor:

A bunch of students are smoking cigarettes outside of a building. There is a "no smoking 10 feet from building" policy on campus. They are following the policy. Also, the policy is in no way limiting their "right to smoke" or "right to pursue their personal projects."

Person A walks outside and the group of smokers blow the smoke into person A's face.


Battery? That is, did this hypo satisfy element number 3?

For there to be battery the D must:
1. (1) act,
2. (2) act with intention to cause harmful or offensive contact,
3. (3) the act must cause a contact with the victim, and
4. (4) the intended contact must be either harmful or offensive to the victim.



Glannon, in his E&E, actually explained that in certain jurisdiction smoking expels "harmful particulates" that would fulfill (3). Of course, there is no definite answer to this because courts in each state can twist and turn the interpretation of (3) in accordance to their own liking.

That is, there is no absolute answer when such hypo comes to mind. Just your analysis of how numerous jurisdictions dealt with similar scenarios and predict reasonably how the case will resolve itself.



Good to know. I have only read Chapter 1 of that EE. Looks like I should be reading a little more :)

I think I remember my prof talking about the "harmful particulates," but then went on to question whether or not "yelling," which are sound waves directed at someone and make contact with them constitute "contact"

User avatar
GoodToBeTheKing
Posts: 296
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:34 pm

Re: Torts Question

Postby GoodToBeTheKing » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:57 pm

btw, is anyone else enjoying the deep philosophical discussions on social utility versus individual rights brought up in torts?

I am finding this class more interesting than my others.

Amen to being in law school and not discussing debt, employment prospects, etc. but just learning the law and/or a new way of critically/analytically thinking about a situation!


Glad I am here!




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: LawHammer and 14 guests