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Postby frosty6731 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:36 pm

Is a batterer liable for all harm that occurs, or only that harm that is "substantially certain" to follow?

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Re: Battery

Postby TheZoid » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:45 pm

All harm- the same for all intentional torts. Substantial certainty relates to the intent element.

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Re: Battery

Postby frosty6731 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:03 pm

That's what I thought.

But, in Spivy v. Battaglia it seems to me the court reaches the exact opposite conclusion. In that case the defendant gave an unsolicited hug to tease a woman and she ended up having facial paralysis. The court held, specifically, that because the harm wasn't "substantially certain to follow" that it wasn't an intentional tort.

The defendant in this case actually claimed intent, because the statute of limitations had run on battery, and the court didn't really challenge that except on the basis of the harm not being "substantially certain to follow."

Anybody know this case? Am I mis-reading it? It really confuses me.

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Re: Battery

Postby stillwater » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:11 pm

It may be because it is a double intent jurisdiction, therefore it didn't satisfy both intent to contact and intent to harm/offend. Substantial knowledge is more likely applicable in a situation where someone recklessly runs through a densely crowded hall, they have a substantial certainty they will harm someone. Usually you are responsible for all harm caused though, see "eggshell skull rule" form Vosburg.
Last edited by stillwater on Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Battery

Postby kalvano » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:12 pm

There is a reasonable person standard. The court probably focused on that and went from there.

Edit: also, the court may have just felt sorry for the lady and wanted to help her out. By not allowing it to be a battery, they let her have a negligence claim.

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Re: Battery

Postby kingofdara » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:17 am

Spivey v. Battaglia: "However, the knowledge and appreciation of a Risk, short of substantial certainty, is not the equivalent of intent. Thus, the distinction between intent and negligence boils down to a matter of degree. ‘Apparently the line has been drawn by the courts at the point where the known danger ceases to be only a foreseeable risk which a reasonable man would avoid (negligence), and becomes a substantial certainty.’ In the latter case, the intent is legally implied and becomes and assault rather than unintentional negligence."

The court said that because the "bizarre" result here (the facial paralysis) was not substantially certain to follow, it could not have been an intentional tort and must be negligence. I don't think this is right at all. It seems to be taking the "knowledge to a substantial certainty" element under the Restatement (Second) too literally. The man's act was intentional in putting his arm around her and pulling her head closer and the injuries resulted from that, no matter how unforeseeable. He intended a contact with her, even if he had no ill will. And although the manner of the harm could not have been anticipated, in an intentional tort it need not be. Courts permit more damages in intentional torts than in negligence. There's still a "proximate cause" expectation in intentional torts, but it's much much more relaxed than in negligence, and any sort of natural outgrowth, within reason, will be seen by the court as a result of the tort.

Here, however, you had a plaintiff without a viable battery cause of action because she sat on her claim and the statute of limitations expired. The court seemed to make a mess of the law here all for the sake of giving her a negligence cause of action. Nevertheless, she'd have a much harder time proving under negligence that the injuries caused were reasonably foreseeable consequences.

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Re: Battery

Postby Jimbo_Jones » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:19 am

Eggshell skull rule - take your plaintiff as you find them. D is liable for complete extent of injuries. There is no "proximate damage" doctrine.

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Re: Battery

Postby Icculus » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:31 am

kalvano wrote: also, the court may have just felt sorry for the lady and wanted to help her out. By not allowing it to be a battery, they let her have a negligence claim.

Having read the opinion I think this is what happened. The court didn't want her to be left with nothing since the battery statute had run so they gave her a chance at negligence which she had pleaded in the alternative.

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Re: Battery

Postby dannynoonan87 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:53 pm

We had to read Spivey and after we dicussed it the prof. said it was bad law and to forget it entirely...

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