Transferred intent in self-defense

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Total Litigator
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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby Total Litigator » Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:52 pm

romothesavior wrote:
Total Litigator wrote:Romo - Not sure exactly what about my response you're criticizing...

None of it. I wasn't criticizing. I was adding to what you said.


Oh great, sorry I was in defensive mode lol

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romothesavior
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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby romothesavior » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:02 pm

The key to torts (especially intentional torts) is applying the elements of the tort to the facts. If this were a short answer question on an exam, I'd answer it like this:

There is no way A liable is liable for battery to C. Battery requires intent, and intent is established by 1) acting with purpose to do commit the touching (clearly not met here because A didn't commit the touching of C) or 2) acting with knowledge that X would be substantially certain to result (no way that you can say i was substantially certain that C would get hit).

B can be liable for battery under the doctrine of transferred intent if he was attempting to batter A. The only way you can say that B was attempting to batter A was if his use of defensive force was reckless or unjustified. Based on the very bare facts we have here, I'd say B was justified and not reckless, therefore not liable.

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby dakatz » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:11 pm

romothesavior wrote:The key to torts (especially intentional torts) is applying the elements of the tort to the facts. If this were a short answer question on an exam, I'd answer it like this:

There is no way A liable is liable for battery to C. Battery requires intent, and intent is established by 1) acting with purpose to do commit the touching (clearly not met here because A didn't commit the touching of C) or 2) acting with knowledge that X would be substantially certain to result (no way that you can say i was substantially certain that C would get hit).

B can be liable for battery under the doctrine of transferred intent if he was attempting to batter A. The only way you can say that B was attempting to batter A was if his use of defensive force was reckless or unjustified. Based on the very bare facts we have here, I'd say B was justified and not reckless, therefore not liable.


Exactly as I see the situation. Some people were trying to say that A could be held liable to C if A acted all along with the intent that B would swing over him and hit C. But the causation element seems far too tenuous to give that argument any merit. Its not like A is throwing a ball at a wall and moving out of the way so it can hit C on the bounceback. B is a human being who has to make the volitional choice to throw a punch in defense. Unless A is prophetic and is substantially certain of how the events will unfold, that argument probably fails.

So we are just left with the situation you described above. B uses justified self-defense. Since he committed no tort, he is not liable to C. And thats pretty much all there is to it.

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby Total Litigator » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:52 pm

Battery requires intent?? No, intentional battery requires intent. You're both forgetting about negligent battery, which completely hinges on foreseeability and causaulity. The relevant question is "Was A negligent in regards to C's injury?" Also, the doctrine of transferred intent completely hinges on causation. If A can be said to accidentally cause an injury to C, then A is liable to C. And if B reacts reasonably and justifiably, then you have a damn good argument that A did in fact cause C to be hit. And B can be liable to C if he was negligent in his reaction, not just reckless. Have you guys even gotten to negligence or causation in your 1L torts class?
Last edited by Total Litigator on Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby dakatz » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:54 pm

Total Litigator wrote:Battery requires intent?? No, intentional battery requires intent. You're both forgetting about negligence battery. Also, the doctrine of transferred intent completely hinges on causation. If A can be said to accidentally cause an injury to C, then A is liable to C. And if B reacts reasonably and justifiably, then you have a damn good argument that A did in fact cause C to be hit. And B can be liable to C if he was negligent in his reaction, not just reckless. Have you guys even gotten to negligence or causation in your 1L torts class?


OP only asked whether A/B would be liable for battery. I think it can be assumed that we are sticking within the realm of intentional torts based on OP's original question. Though I don't doubt that A could certainly be liable to C in some sort of negligence action.

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby Total Litigator » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:56 pm

That is a terrible assumption. Besides, I argued that transferred intent might actually apply, based on a causation analysis. A's intent to harm C is not relevant to a transferred intent question. As long as A intended to harm B and caused an injury to C, he would be liable to C.

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby dakatz » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:02 pm

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Last edited by dakatz on Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby Total Litigator » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:02 pm

The only tricky part is whether B's actions break the chain of causation, but if B acted reasonably and justifiably, than the chain of causation arguably remained intact, and A is liable to C for intentional battery under the doctrine of transferred intent.

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby Total Litigator » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:03 pm

dakatz wrote:
Total Litigator wrote:That is a terrible assumption. That makes the OP's question extremely stupid, and I have more faith in the OP than that.


Why would it make it a stupid question? I'm not sure I understand.


Sorry, I edited my post, the question would not be stupid, that was a knee jerk reaction on my part. See my edited and subsequent post...

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby dakatz » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:05 pm

Total Litigator wrote:That is a terrible assumption. Besides, I argued that transferred intent might actually apply, based on a causation analysis. A's intent to harm C is not relevant to a transferred intent question. As long as A intended to harm B and caused an injury to C, he would be liable to C.


I think that causal chain is far too tenuous to hold up. B had to make a volitional act to throw that punch. As I mentioned earlier, its not like A threw a tennis ball at a wall and moved out of the way on the bounceback so it could hit C. There was a completely separate volitional act involved on the part of B. I think the causation elements gets weak once you have to add in a completely volitional act by B.

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby Total Litigator » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:05 pm

Also, the law I am applying is The Restatement (2nd) of Torts, Section 16(2): "Where the actor tries to batter one person and actually causes a harmful or offensive contact to another, she will be liable to the actual victim." (emphasis added)

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby dakatz » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:10 pm

Total Litigator wrote:Also, the law I am applying is The Restatement (2nd) of Torts, Section 16(2): "Where the actor tries to batter one person and actually causes a harmful or offensive contact to another, she will be liable to the actual victim." (emphasis added)


Oh I totally get what you are saying. But I cannot see the causal chain holding up when you have to add in a completely volitional act by another party. I think of the Restatement's definition as a series of dominoes. There is no volition involved by any individual piece, only the initial actor. B isn't just a domino that is inevitably going to fall. He had a choice. He could run, duck, take the hit, throw one in defense, etc. If A attacks B, and B falls into C and hurts him, that is your classic Restatement definition of transferred intent. But B punching C by accident seems like too much of a causal stretch.
Last edited by dakatz on Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Total Litigator
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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby Total Litigator » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:15 pm

dakatz wrote: I think that causal chain is far too tenuous to hold up. B had to make a volitional act to throw that punch. As I mentioned earlier, its not like A threw a tennis ball at a wall and moved out of the way on the bounceback so it could hit C. There was a completely separate volitional act involved on the part of B. I think the causation elements gets weak once you have to add in a completely volitional act by B.


That is a fair criticism and I'm sure this aspect of the problem would be heavily debated in court. I'm remember reading some case law that says the causal chain is broken if only if an intervening actor acts negligently plus, hence my earlier argument that if a court finds that B acted reasonably and justifiably, that really hurts A's case. The area of causation law is extremely hairy, subject to pages and pages of case law, and professors love to test on it. I've seen a practice exam where the professor wanted the to analyze an entire series of convoluted events for causation. However, I will stick to my guns on my argument that C actually has a pretty strong case that A caused his injury.

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby dakatz » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:20 pm

Total Litigator wrote:
dakatz wrote: I think that causal chain is far too tenuous to hold up. B had to make a volitional act to throw that punch. As I mentioned earlier, its not like A threw a tennis ball at a wall and moved out of the way on the bounceback so it could hit C. There was a completely separate volitional act involved on the part of B. I think the causation elements gets weak once you have to add in a completely volitional act by B.


That is a fair criticism and I'm sure this aspect of the problem would be heavily debated in court. I'm remember reading some case law that says the causal chain is broken if only if an intervening actor acts negligently plus, hence my earlier argument that if a court finds that B acted reasonably and justifiably, that really hurts A's case. The area of causation law is extremely hairy, subject to pages and pages of case law, and professors love to test on it. I've seen a practice exam where the professor wanted the to analyze an entire series of convoluted events for causation. However, I will stick to my guns on my argument that C actually has a pretty strong case that A caused his injury.


Regardless of whether or not I think its a solid argument, its certainly something I'd mention on an exam in order to best flesh out all possible views and interpretations. So thank you are arguing that side and giving me a bit better perspective.

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Re: Transferred intent in self-defense

Postby Total Litigator » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:24 pm

And also, yes he could of ducked, ran, hit back, etc., but if the court finds his reaction justified based on the facts of the situation, doesn't it render his exact choice of reaction a moot point? You also have to remember that the doctrine of transferred intent is a legal fiction, created because judges want an agressor to be liable for the injuries that he causes. It's a very victim-friendly rule.

That being said, this issue of causation is very arguable, and if this question was on an exam, the professor would probably want to see both your points and my points argued, and he/she probably wouldn't really care which conclusion you came to.

And the prof would also want to see a negligent battery argument as well, unless he explicitely framed the question in terms of transferred intent, and not in terms of pure liability.

And I just now read your latest post, so I think we both agree with eachother.

So I guess the answer to the OP is: "It depends." I'm sure that wasn't the answer OP was looking for, but with questions like these, its usually the only answer a lawyer will give. The only yes or no answers to questions solid enough to make it past the motion to dismiss stage only come from judges lol.




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