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Intentional Torts


The common law held store owners liable for any torts committed ... the court refused to extend the actual malice test to media defamation of private citizens who ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Intentional Torts

Intentional Torts
  • I. Assault and battery
  • _______ is the intentional, harmful or
    offensive contact of another without his consent.
  • _______ is an attempt to cause a harmful or
    offensive contact with another if it causes a
    reasonable apprehension of immediate battery.

  • T or F Statements
  • If Mike throws a rock at Stevens and Stevens is
    hit by the rock, Mike has not committed a battery
    because of no direct contact between their
  • (F----Direct contact between a wrongdoers
    body and the body of another is not necessary for
    a battery to result.)
  • 2. If Mike throws a rock at Stevens, but Peter is
    hit by the rock, Mike is not liable to Peter for
  • (A wrongdoer who intends to injure one
    person, but injures another is also liable to the
    person injured despite the absence of any intent
    to injure him.)

  • 3. Threats of future battery do not create
    liability of assault.
  • 4. If A fires a rifle at B from a great distance
    and misses him, and B learns of the attempt on
    his life only at a later date, then A is liable
    to B for the tort of assault.
  • 5. As pointing of the gun at B is an assault
    After firing the gun and the bullet hits B, then
    A commits assault and battery.

  • II. False Imprisonment
  • Definition
  • False imprisonment is the intentional
    unjustified confinement of another without his
  • This tort protects a person from loss of liberty
    and freedom of movement.

  • T or F statements
  • 1. In order to prevent A from moving, B does not
    threat to harm A but harm As spouse or child
    instead. So this is not false imprisonment.
  • (F How to make confinement?
  • Confinement may result from physical
    barrier, or use of physical force or the threat
    to use of physical force against the plaintiff. )
  • 2. A confines B in a building by locking one
    door, but this building has other unlocked doors.
    This does not amount to false imprisonment.

  • (T complete confinement
  • partial confinement )
  • 3. A confines B in a room in the third story of
    a building with all doors locked, only one
    third-story window open. Such confinement does
    not amount to false imprisonment.
  • (F The fact the a means of escape exists
    does not render a confinement partial if if
    involves some unreasonable risk of harm to the

  • Most contemporary False imprisonment cases
    involve shoplifting
  • (1) The common law is more in favor of the
    interest of customers.
  • The common law held store owners liable for
    any torts committed while detaining a suspected
    shoplifter if the investigation revealed that the
    detainee was innocent of any wrongdoing.

  • (2) Statutes tend to protect the legitimate
    interests of store owners in preventing theft of
    their property.
  • A. Most states have passed statutes giving
    store owner a conditional privilege to stop
    persons who they reasonably believe are

  • B. The store owner must have reasonable
    grounds (probable cause) to believe the
    shoplifting has been committed.
  • The owner must act in a reasonable manner and
    only detain the suspect for a reasonable length
    of time.
  • C. Store owners who act within the scope of
    such a statute are not liable for any torts
    committed in the process of detaining a suspected

  • Case analysis
  • Bonkowski v. Arlans Department Store
  • Facts the plaintiff, the defendant store, a
    private policeman, in the nearby parking lot,
    steal costume jewelry
  • Procedural history This case is an appeal from a
    jury trial with a verdict for false arrest and
  • Plaintiffs claim torts, damages on false arrest
    and slander
  • Defendants claim to waive the jurys verdict
    and make a new trial

  • Legal issues
  • Whether the case should be taken on a new trial?
  • What privilege does the defendant have as a
    defense in shoplifting cases involving false

  • Reasoning
  • What is the usual privilege the defendant enjoys
    under the common law and the Restatement of
  • What is the justification for it?
  • What is the privilege recognized in this case?
  • Give instructions on what the jury should do on
    remand of this case
  • .

  • Reasoning
  • 1. Clarify the legal principle governing this
  • (1) what privilege a merchant enjoys
  • (2)under what circumstances he enjoys such
  • (3)why it is necessary to grand merchant such
  • (The appeal court stresses the concept of
    privilege in false arrest case involving
    shoplifting, whereas the trial court and the jury
    made no consideration to this defense.)

  • Reasoning
  • 2. Extend this privilege to the special
    circumstances of this case----the detention of
    one who has left the premises but in their
    immediate vicinity.
  • 3. Remand the case to the trial court for a new
    trial with instruction----it will be the duty of
    the jury to decide (1) whetherand (2) whether
  • Decision
  • Reversed and remanded for new trial.

  • Defamation
  • Defamation refers to unprivileged
    publication of false and defamatory statements
    concerning another. The statements must harm the
    particular plaintiffs reputation.
  • 1. Two statements
  • Alfred is a lousy governor.
  • I think Tony must be a homosexual.
  • Which statement is a subject of defamation?
  • ( statement of opinions
  • statement of facts)

  • 2. The elements of the tort of defamation require
    publication of a defamatory statement. (T or F)
  • Communication of the defamatory statement to one
    person other than the person defamed is
    ordinarily not sufficient for publication.
  • One who repeats or republishes a defamatory
    statement is liable for defamation, regardless of
    whether he identifies the source of the statement.

  • 3. Libel and Slander
  • (1) Which category should some new media, such as
    radio, television, be classified into?
  • Today the great majority of courts treat
    broadcast defamation as libel.
  • (2) Is there any significance to distinguish
    libel and slander?
  • Libel is actionable without any proof of
    special damage to the plaintiff.
  • Slander is generally not actionable without
    proof of special damage.

  • 4. Defamation and the constitution
  • In recent years the Supreme Court has
    balanced the conflicting social interests in a
    series of important cases.
  • Under the common law, defendants were strictly
    liable for defamatory statements.
  • In New York Times v. Sullivan, the court held
    that public officials seeking to recover for
    defamatory statements relating to performance of
    their official duties must prove actual malice on
    the part of a media defendant to recover any
  • The plaintiff was awarded punitive damages
    without need to show defendant had actual malice.

  • (3) In Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc, the court
    refused to extend the actual malice test to media
    defamation of private citizens who involuntarily
    became involved in matters of public concern.
    Instead, the court held that
  • to recover compensatory damages such person must
    prove some degree of fault at least amounting to
    negligence on the part of the defendant.
  • to recover punitive damages they must prove
    actual malice.

  • (4) Dun Bradstreet Inc v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc
    is a case involving a private figure plaintiff (a
    construction contractor) and defamatory speech
    about a matter of purely private concern (a false
    credit report). The court refused to apply the
    Gertz standard and upheld a recovery based on the
    common law strict liability standard.

  • 5. Defenses to defamation
  • ______ is an absolute defense to defamation. The
    tort of defamation requires that a statement as
    the basis of a defamation suit be _____ and
  • ( Truth false and defamatory)
  • (2) Even where defamatory statements are false, a
    defense of _____ may serve to prevent
    liability._____ can be absolute or conditional.
  • (privilege privilege)

  • a. statements made by participants in judicial
    proceedings, legislators in the course of
    legislative proceedings, certain executive
    officials in the course of their official duties
  • ----absolute privilege
  • b. Statements made by the author for acting to
    protect his own legitimate interests or those of
    third person.
  • ----conditional privilege

  • Invasion of the right to privacy
  • Four distinct behaviors qualify as an
    invasion of privacy.
  • (1) Intrusion on a persons solitude or
  • The intrusion may be physical or
    nonphysical intrusion.
  • (2) Public disclosure (publicity) concerning
    private facts
  • Truth is not a defense to this type of invasion
    of privacy.

  • B. This tort also conflicts with the
    constitutionally protected freedoms of the press
    and of speech.
  • The courts have attempted to balance these
    conflicting social interests in several ways.
  • First, no liability ordinarily attaches to
    publicity concerning matters of public record or
    of legitimate public interest.
  • Second, public figures and public officials
    have no right of privacy concerning information
    that is reasonably related to their public life.

  • (3) Publicity placing a person in a false light
    in the public eyes
  • (4) Appropriation of name or likeness for
    commercial purposes

  • Intentional tort against property
  • Trespass to land
  • Nuisance
  • Trespass to personal property
  • Conversion

  • real property (realty)
  • 1. Property
  • personal property
  • to land
  • 2. Trespass
  • to personal
  • ______is the most common tort that infringes
    upon both real and personal property interests.
  • A person who ventures onto the land of
    another without permission is a ______.
  • (trespasser)

  • 3. trespass to land / nuisance
  • Definition
  • Trespass to land P7
  • Nuisance is the unreasonable and unlawful
    interference with another persons right to the
    use or enjoyment of his land.
  • (2) The traditional view regarding trespass is
    that there must be an actual (physical), tangible
  • Nuisance, unlike trespass, does not
    necessarily involve any physical interferences of
    a persons property.

  • (3) Examples
  • Trespass to land P7
  • Nuisance noise, vibrations, the projection
    of light, unpleasant smell

  • 4. Trespass to personal property / conversion
  • Definition
  • Trespass to personal propertyP7
  • Conversion is the wrongful and unlawful
    exercise of control or dominion (power) over the
    personal property of another.
  • Conversion deprives the proper owner of
    lawful rights in the property.

  • Case analysis
  • Milk goes to Friendly Motors to ask for a
    test-drive of new-brand car. Suppose
  • Milk wrecks the car, causing serious damage to
    the car
  • Milk drives the car across the United States
  • Milk is involved in the fender bender
  • Milk keeps the car for eight hours.
  • Which situations constitute conversion, and
    which situations constitute trespass to personal

  • (2) The difference between conversion and
    trespass to personal property is based on
  • (the degree of interference with anothers
    property rights).
  • The factors the courts may consider in
    determining the seriousness of interference are
  • a. the extent of the harm done to the
  • b. the extent and duration of the

  • T or F for revision
  • (1) Nuisance must involve some physical invasion
    of a persons property.
  • (2) Noise, vibration, unpleasant odors are
    examples that could be trespass.
  • (3) A person cannot be liable for trespass if
    the trespass results from his mistaken belief
    that his entry is legally justified.
  • (4) The difference between conversion and
    trespass to personal property is based on the
    degree of interference with anothers property