Battery -- Intent Question

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OneEl14
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Battery -- Intent Question

Postby OneEl14 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:03 pm

From the E&E, I understood the intent element of battery to require only "intent to cause the physical contact" which turns out to be harmful or offensive. For example, in Vosburg v. Putney when Putney kicked Vosburg in the leg but did not intend to harm him but did. He ended up being found guilty for the action despite not intending a harmful or physical contact. But in class, we talked about how two of the leading tort scholars disagree. One believes that the intent requirement to be only "intent to cause the physical contact," but the other believed it to be "intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact."

So does the intent requirement require that the person merely acted voluntarily? Or does it require that they acted voluntarily for the purposes of an offensive or harmful contact? Or is it something arguable? Can someone clear this up for me please?

kaiser
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Re: Battery -- Intent Question

Postby kaiser » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:14 pm

This is a common debate in Torts and isn't one with a defnitive answer. Some call the two arguments single and dual intent. Single intent is merely the intent to cause the contact (which happened to be harmful or offensive). Dual intent implied that you intended for the contact to occur AND that the contact be harmful or offensive.

The debate is most applicable to situations of sexual battery and battery by the mentally handicapped. A sexual batterer may argue that he didn't at all mean to offend or harm. Under a dual intent theory, it is hard to say he had the requisite intent. The solution courts usually apply in these situations is to invoke the substantial certainty prong of intent and say that, while the defendant didn't intend to cause harm, he knew with a substantial certainty that such offense or harm would result. You also run into a thorny situation with batteries by a mentally handicapped person, who may not even have the capacity to intend harm or offense.

Again, no clear answer or black letter doctrine governing this.

And just FYI, one isn't "guilty" of a tort. You are said to be "liable" for it. Guilt only applies on the criminal context, not civil.

OneEl14
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Re: Battery -- Intent Question

Postby OneEl14 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:23 pm

kaiser wrote:This is a common debate in Torts and isn't one with a defnitive answer. Some call the two arguments single and dual intent. Single intent is merely the intent to cause the contact (which happened to be harmful or offensive). Dual intent implied that you intended for the contact to occur AND that the contact be harmful or offensive.

The debate is most applicable to situations of sexual battery and battery by the mentally handicapped. A sexual batterer may argue that he didn't at all mean to offend or harm. Under a dual intent theory, it is hard to say he had the requisite intent. Same for a battery by a mentally handicapped person, who may not even have the capacity to intend harm or offense.

Again, no clear answer or black letter doctrine governing this.

And just FYI, one isn't "guilty" of a tort. You are said to be "liable" for it. Guilt only applies on the criminal context, not civil.


Great, thanks so much. So what would you do on an exam then if you come up with this issue? Argue for the plaintiff that single intent would apply and argue that under that concept defendant was liable for battery? And then turn around and argue for the defendant that dual intent would apply and thus defendant is not liable?

Thanks for the tip on guilt vs intent. Clueless 1L here :oops:.

071816
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Re: Battery -- Intent Question

Postby 071816 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:24 pm

Ask your professor how he or she would state the intent element (if it isn't evident from class) and go with that. The way I understand it pretty much falls in line with the E&E (intentional act with a substantial certainty that the harmful or offensive contact would result OR an intentional act done with the purpose of causing the harmful or offensive contact).

Disclaimer: I'm a 1L as well.

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NeighborGuy
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Re: Battery -- Intent Question

Postby NeighborGuy » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:36 pm

My torts prof. was very clear in support of "single intent" (though he didn't use that phrase). I'm pretty sure that's the definition my state uses for jury instruction, so it makes sense that he would teach that. So yeah, check with your prof and see what he/she wants.

random5483
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Re: Battery -- Intent Question

Postby random5483 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:37 pm

Intent to do the act is enough for Battery. Intent to touch is sufficient, you don't need to intend that the touch is harmful or offensive. If the act is harmful or offensive, and if you intended to do the act without the intent to commit a harmful or offensive act, you have still committed battery. This is based on a lengthy discussion I had with my Torts professor last year.

However, the earlier poster is 100% correct. Always go with whatever your professor states. You are being graded by your professor not by a supplement or another professor.

target
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Re: Battery -- Intent Question

Postby target » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:42 pm

Check with your prof. Although, I would think at your level (mine as well), which is 1L, applying the Restatement is generally a good respond. This means single intent.

OneEl14
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Re: Battery -- Intent Question

Postby OneEl14 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:58 pm

target wrote:Check with your prof. Although, I would think at your level (mine as well), which is 1L, applying the Restatement is generally a good respond. This means single intent.


Great point! I did a quick search and found this article:

1. Dual Intent or Single Intent?

First, what intent is required for battery? Why, the “inten[t] to cause a harmful or offensive contact,” of course! But this usual way of characterizing the intent is fatally ambiguous. Must the defendant intend only to cause the contact? Or must she also intend that the contact be harmful or offensive? The courts are split on the issue: a substantial group follows the so-called dual-intent approach, requiring both an intent to contact and an intent either to harm or offend; another substantial group follows the single-intent approach, requiring only an intent to contact. (The Restatement (Second) gives muddled guidance here some language appears to endorse the dual-intent view, but there is also some language that supports the single-intent view.)


It looks like even the Restatement could plausibly be interpreted for either single or dual intent.

target
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Re: Battery -- Intent Question

Postby target » Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:22 am

Just want to clarify some points.

1. The article you cited is a LR article of a law professor, which carries even less force of law than the restatement.
2. The article discusses the third restatement, while the second restatement was the one I was referring to (and likely your casebook as well).

You should definitely check with your prof on what he wants you to use. I realized that my previous post is a bit conclusive. It was so because kaiser's point is more of a policy argument than a settled point of law. And given how we're just 1Ls, I doubt that your prof will demand from you a thorough debate between single and dual intent.

kaiser
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Re: Battery -- Intent Question

Postby kaiser » Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:25 am

I agree that you should ask your professor. Mine specified in the exam instructions that we were to assume a single theory of intent. If you get such direct instructions, then there is no reason to ponder this questions. For all you know, your professor will be inclined toward one theory over the other.

OneEl14
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Re: Battery -- Intent Question

Postby OneEl14 » Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:31 am

Naked Dude wrote:
OneEl14 wrote:From the E&E, I understood the intent element of battery to require only "intent to cause the physical contact" which turns out to be harmful or offensive. For example, in Vosburg v. Putney when Putney kicked Vosburg in the leg but did not intend to harm him but did. He ended up being found guilty for the action despite not intending a harmful or physical contact. But in class, we talked about how two of the leading tort scholars disagree. One believes that the intent requirement to be only "intent to cause the physical contact," but the other believed it to be "intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact."

So does the intent requirement require that the person merely acted voluntarily? Or does it require that they acted voluntarily for the purposes of an offensive or harmful contact? Or is it something arguable? Can someone clear this up for me please?


So per the first scholar's view, would that mean that an assault could not transfer into a battery?


Interesting question, i'm not quite sure. Both theories agree that a physical contact which is intended to be harmful or offensive would satisfy the intent element (ie, first scholar thinks harmful intent is sufficient while the second scholar thinks it necessary). So according to the first scholar, an assault could transfer to a battery, but it would have to be a fact pattern where the intent was not merely to cause the physical contact, but also with the intent for harm or offense.

kaiser wrote:I agree that you should ask your professor. Mine specified in the exam instructions that we were to assume a single theory of intent. If you get such direct instructions, then there is no reason to ponder this questions. For all you know, your professor will be inclined toward one theory over the other.


I definitely will.




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