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Intentional Torts


The case also gives us another illustration of the interplay between the tort ... Several on-duty police officers soon arrived and arrested Garcia. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Intentional Torts

Intentional Torts
  • What do we mean by intentional?
  • Caudle v. Betts, p. 182
  • Facts
  • How did the lower court screw up the concept of
    intent in tort law?
  • The case also gives us another illustration of
    the interplay between the tort law system and
    state workers compensation law. How so?
  • And, the case gives us an example of the tort of
    assault and battery.

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Leichtman v. Furman, Ohio Ct. App., 1994
  • Def. Furman was a radio talk show host. He
    invited Pl. Leichtmann to appear as a guest. Pl
    was volunteer executive director of the Citizens
    for a Tobacco-free Society. He appeared on Defs
    show on the eve of the Great American Smokeout
    to discuss the dangers of passive smoke
    inhalation. During the interview, Def.
    repeatedly and deliberately blew cigar smoke into
    Pls face and onto his clothes. There was no
    evidence that Pl. suffered any physical injury.
    Pl. sued Df. his employer (owner of radio
    stations) for assault and battery.
  • Conclusion?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • False imprisonment
  • Detain or confine, no consent, not part of lawful
  • Most common application today is detention of
    suspected shopliftersold common-law view
  • Two types of state statutes are relevant
  • Probable cause reasonablenessAll states
  • Electronic detection probable causeMany states
  • Estes v. Eckerds, p. 186
  • Facts
  • How did the 2 statutes work together in this
  • Conclusion?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Moores, Inc. v. Garcia, TX Ct. App., 1980-Not a
    shoplifting case
  • Garcia, along with a friend, went to a store,
    Moore's, Inc., to stuff for a party. After Garcia
    bought a pie, the two men left the store. Upon
    entering the car outside the store, Garcia's
    friend realized that he had forgotten to pay for
    some candy, and was going to go back in the
    store. The security guard of the store, Bieniek,
    who was also an off-duty policeman, saw the
    alleged shoplifting of the candy and followed the
    men to their car. At the car, Bieniek asked
    Garcia's friend to accompany him back into the
    store to inquire about the shoplifting. Both men
    accompanied Bieniek back into the store. Bieniek
    took Garcia's friend into a small room in the
    back of the store and began his investigation.
    Garcia banged on the door and loudly inquired
    about what was happening. Bieniek loudly told
    Garcia that his friend was under arrest, told him
    to get out of the store, and slammed a metal door
    in Garcias face. Garcia struck a time clock in
    rage, and stormed out of the store, cursing as he
    left. Bieniek followed Garcia out of the store,
    grabbed him by the arm pushed him, and arrested
    him for destruction of private property, breach
    of the peace, and interfering with a lawful
    arrest. Bienek claimed that the clock was
    damaged, but there was no evidence that it was.
    (Other employees testified to the eventsthis
    wasnt just Bieneks word vs. Garcias.) Several
    on-duty police officers soon arrived and arrested
    Garcia. He was handcuffed and taken to jail where
    he was booked, photographed and fingerprinted.
    Garcia remained in jail for approximately three
    hours, and all charges were dismissed. Garcia
    sued Bienek and the store for false imprisonment
    and assault and battery.
  • Conclusion?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Henry v. J.C. Penney, TX Ct. App., 2000
  • Henry (P) was in a J.C. Penney (D) store. He
    saw a sweater he liked. He took off his new
    jacket (he had bought it there 2 wks. before) and
    put it on a rack while he tried on the sweater.
    He decided not to buy the sweater. He put his
    jacket back on and left the store. A clerk saw P
    take the jacket off a rack that had similar
    jackets, put it on, and leave the store without
    paying for it. She alerted the manager who
    followed P to a nearby store and told him that
    there was a problem with his merchandise and that
    he had some questions for him. Henry shrugged
    and said OK. The manager and a security guard
    accompanied Henry back to Ds store. The guard
    took Henrys arm, but not roughly, and guided him
    back to Ds store where P produced a receipt from
    his wallet proving that he had previously paid
    for the jacket. The manager checked the receipt,
    apologized, and let Henry leave. The incident
    took 7-10 minutes, all told. P sued D for false
    imprisonment. Conclusion?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Invasion of Privacy
  • Public Disclosure of Embarrassing Private Facts
  • Young v. Jackson, p. 189
  • Facts
  • What has to be proved?
  • Note the analogy the court used in adopting a
    qualified privilege from the law of defamation.
  • How did this privilege apply here, and what
    effect did it have.
  • Conclusion?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Invasion of Privacy
  • Intrusion (intrusion into seclusion, intrusion
    into solitude)
  • Intrusion of outrageous nature into matters that
    a reasonable person would be justified in viewing
    as very personal private
  • Examples
  • How might we change the facts in Young v. Jackson
    to make it an intrusion case?
  • What if you use your employers e-mail system,
    and the employer monitors your usage without your
    consent or knowledge?
  • False light (wont discuss)
  • Appropriation of name, likeness . . (the right of
  • You didnt consent, explicitly or implicitly.
    What if you were participating in a public event,
    and a photo with you in it appeared in the
    newspaper? What if someone took the photo and
    then used it in a commercial ad?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • McNamara v. Freedom Newspapers, TX Ct. App., 1991
  • Def. newspaper in Brownsville published a photo
    taken during a high school soccer game. The
    photo accurately depicted Pl. and a student from
    the opposing school running full stride while
    chasing the soccer ball. The picture revealed
    P's genitalia, which happened to be exposed at
    the exact moment that the photo was taken. Pl.
    sued the newspaper for public disclosure of
    embarrassing private facts.
  • Conclusion? Why?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Kidder v. Ocwen, Fla. Dist. Ct., 2000
  • Minnis crawled through the crawlspace above the
    womens restroom at his office building and
    installed a video camera so that he could
    secretly spy on Pl. and other female employees.
    Pl. sued for intrusion?
  • Conclusion?
  • What if he had shown the videos to one friend?
    Any difference?
  • What if he put the video on the web, or attached
    it as a file to an e-mail he sent to a large
    number of people?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Smyth v. Pillsbury Corp., Fed. Dist. Ct., PA,
  • Pillsbury (Def.) maintained an e-mail system to
    promote internal corporate communications among
    its employees. The company repeatedly assured
    its employees that all e-mail would remain
    confidential and privileged and that it would not
    be intercepted and used by the company against
    its employees as grounds for termination or
    reprimand. In October 1994, after becoming very
    angry at his supervisor about some inane
    bureaucratic requirement, an employee named Smyth
    sent an e-mail to another employee referring to
    an upcoming coming holiday party as the Jim
    Jones Koolaid affair, a reference to the suicide
    of 900 followers of cult leader Jim Jones in S.
    Amer. by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid. He also
    wrote about killing the backstabbing bastards,
    although no reasonable person would believe that
    he intended to carry this out. Management had
    monitored the e-mail and saw Smyths message.
    They fired him, and he sued for the tort of
    intrusion. Conclusion rationale?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Defamation (libel slander)
  • Libel or slander per sejust proving
    humiliation, mental anguish justifies damage
    award. Just slandermust prove actual economic
  • Statement made as a fact, not a prediction or
  • Fact?------------------?Opinion
  • When in the middle, relative knowledge of parties
    can play a part.
  • Also when in the middle, a statement that is
    arguably just opinion may clearly imply an
    underlying factual basis for the opinion, and be
    treated as a factual assertion.
  • E.g., in the context of a discussion between X
    Y about Zs various questionable securities and
    banking practices, including references to
    certain laws, X being someone like a former
    business partner who might have access to
    relevant facts, X states, Yeah, I think that Z
    may be a crook.
  • Is the statement defamatory? What is defamatory?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Defamation, cont.
  • Is the statement false? What if defamatory but
  • Does the plaintiff have to prove falsity, or does
    the defendant have to prove truth as a defense?
    That is, who has the burden of proof on
  • Traditional rule, still the majority rule
  • Rule for news media (publishers) reporting on
    public figures or officials, or on newsworthy
  • News media rule has been adopted as the general
    rule by a minority of states
  • Communication (publication) to at least one other
    person. Obviously, though, the size of the
    audience affects the amount of harm to
    plaintiffs reputation thus damages.

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Defamation, cont.
  • Privileges
  • Absolute. Cant win a defamation case, period.
  • Qualified privileges. If plaintiff proves all
    the requirements of the tort of defamation, he
    then also has to prove malice. 2 main
  • Media reporting ..
  • One stating, and those receiving, both have
    legitimate interest in . . .
  • Proving malice
  • Def. knew . . ., or
  • Def. acted with reckless disregard . . .

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Webster v. Wilkins, Ga. Ct. App., 1995
  • Dominique Wilkins, then an NBA basketball star
    (the human highlight film) and a celebrity in
    Atlanta, was about to be married to Nicole Berry.
    He was interviewed by a reporter for the Atlanta
    Constitution-Journal. The reporter asked Wilkins
    about his former girlfriend, Webster, with whom
    Wilkins had had a child. The child was 3 yrs. old
    at the time of the interview, and whom he had
    been fully supporting. He and his ex-lover
    didnt get along, to say the least. He became
    emotional and said, I probably shouldnt say
    this, but that woman is unfit to have a kid. Id
    like to take the kid away from her. Webster sued
    Wilkins the newspaper for defamation (Webster
    for slander per se, which it would have been
    under her theory, and the newspaper for libel.)
  • Fact or opinion? Conclusion?
  • Would the newspaper have had a defense that
    Wilkins didnt have?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Lewis v. Equitable Life Assurance, SCt. of Minn.,
  • After a business trip, Lewis was asked by her
    supervisors to falsify certain expense reports.
    She had all of her receipts, and there was no
    evidence that any of her spending was excessive
    or improper. She refused to do so and was fired
    for the stated reason of "gross insubordination,"
    though her boss knew that this was an untrue
    charge. Under company employment policies, such
    a charge enabled the boss to fire her summarily,
    without any warnings, etc.
  • As a result, Lewis was unable to get a job for
    a long time. She either wouldnt answer
    questions about why she had left Equitable, or
    she told the truththat she had been fired for
    the reason of gross insubordination, but she then
    denied the accuracy of this reason. She then
    sued Equitable for defamation. In its defense,
    Equitable claimed that the statementLewis had
    been fired for gross insubordinationwas actually
    true because that was the stated reason.
    Equitable also asserted correctly that it had not
    communicated the statement to anyone else as the
    law requires for defamation, but that Lewis had
    communicated it herself.
  • Conclusion? Rationale?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Trespass to land
  • Intentional entry, even if mistaken. No express
    or implied consent.
  • You buy land. Someone buys adjoining land,
    starts using it as a shooting range. You get
    tired of bullets whizzing over you land. You sue
    for trespass. Do you win?
  • Someone comes to your house. They act badly.
    You tell them firmly to leave. They dont. Are
    they trespassing?
  • You clearly mark your property with signs telling
    people they cant come onto your property. They
    do. Are they trespassing?
  • You own a residential house lot. No sidewalk.
    School nearby. Kids walk across your lawn near
    the street. Are they trespassing? What if they
    walk through your flower beds next to the house?
    What if they walk on the lawn near the street and
    you tell them to walk in the street?
  • A hunter has permission to hunt, or a wood cutter
    has permission to cut wood, on land next to
    yours. He makes a mistake about where the
    boundary line is and goes onto your property.
    What if he does not cause physical damage?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Conversiontaking or destroying personal
    property (this is any property other than real
    estate, owned by an individual, corporation, or
    other entity)
  • Trespass to chattelsa chattel is an old term
    from English law, still used, to describe
    tangible personal property.
  • Intel v. Hamidi, SCt of CA, 2003
  • Ken Hamidi, a former Intel employee, left Intel
    after a dispute over a disability claim. He
    created a web site called to
    protest Intels alleged mistreatment of its
    employees. He then used Intels own e-mail
    directory, which had been sent to him by an
    anonymous Intel employee, to send 7 e-mail
    messages to 30,000 Intel employees in order to
    publicize his web site and to ask them to send
    their grievances to him. Intel sued Hamidi for
    trespass to chattels (its server). Volume of
    e-mail didnt affect the server or distract
    employees. Conclusion?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Def. acted intentionally or recklessly (i.e.,
    obviously not caring) to cause emotional/psycholog
    ical trauma
  • Defs conduct was extreme outrageous
  • Pl. suffered severe emotional distress, as shown
    by objective evidence (not just Pl. saying so)
  • A reasonable person under the circumstances would
    have likewise suffered this kind of harm.

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Driscol v. Household Credit Services, TX Dist.
    Ct., 1995
  • Marianne Driscol (P) lost her job at a time when
    she owed 2,000 on her Visa credit card. She
    continued making small payments, but the
    creditor, Household Credit Services (D) became
    impatient and began pressuring her for money. In
    1992, D demanded that P pay 22 by Oct. 31. When
    she said she couldnt get that much until the
    second week in November, Ds employee insisted
    and told her You get it, bitch, or else. P
    missed the payment and D turned the debt over to
    a collection agency called Allied. Allied
    threatened Ps life, made nasty phone calls at
    all hours of the day or night and told P they
    were going to put out a contract on her. After
    she found a new job in El Paso, Allied agents
    continually called her at work. One day they
    called her 26 times in one hour and made a bomb
    threat to her new place of employment. P. sued
    for Int. Infl. of Emot. Distress.
  • Conclusion?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Randalls Food Markets v. Johnson, SCt of TX,
  • Randalls received a credible report that one of
    its management-level employees, P, was stealing
    from the company. Randall's questioned P about
    the situation and learned that he was innocent of
    wrongdoing. Having his honesty questioned
    severely upset and depressed P, who sued
    Randalls for Int. Infl. of Emot. Distress.
  • Conclusion?

Intentional Torts, cont.
  • Tidelands Auto Club v. Walters, Tex. Ct. App.,
  • Ps wife was killed in a car wreck. P filed a
    life insurance claim with Tidelands Insurance Co.
    (D). Before giving P a copy, Ds agent altered a
    letter it had received from a Justice of the
    Peace. The letter relayed the opinion of the
    regional crime laboratory that Ps wife had not
    been intoxicated at the time of the accident.
    Ds agent changed the letter to say that she had
    been intoxicated. The letter terribly upset P.
    He did not want to tell his daughter about it.
    He locked himself up alone in a room for several
    days he could not sleep at night. Ultimately, P
    learned the truth and sued D for Int. Infl. of
    Emot. Distress.
  • Conclusion?