Brief Fact Summary.
Plaintiff and Defendant were neighbors. One night, Plaintiff went to Defendant’s residence to see if his dog was at Defendant’s residence. When Defendant opened his door, Plaintiff’s dog ran outside. The parties began to argue. Plaintiff began to motion toward Defendant aggressively. Defendant punched Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought suit seeking damages for assault and battery. Defendant asserts a self-defense claim, and the court held in Defendant’s favor. Plaintiff appealed.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
When a defendant uses reasonable force in self defense to defend himself or herself, then the defendant is shielded from a claim of assault and battery.
Plaintiff, Harold Haeussler went to his neighbor’s, Emil De Loretto, Defendant, house at night to ask about Plaintiff’s missing dog. In the past, the dog would usually go to Defendant’s door. The moment Defendant opened the door, Plaintiff’s dog ran outside. Plainitiff began to complain the Defendant took his dog, leading both men to start arguing with each other. Plaintiff waived his hands and his face appeared as if he Plaintif was intoxicated. Defendant began to become fearful because he knew that Plaintiff had previously assaulted on of his friends in the past. Defendant told Plaintiff to leave, but Plaintiff motioned towards him aggressively. Thereafter, Defendant punched Plaitiff in the face, which resulted in damage to two of Plaintiff’s teeth. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant for assault and battery. Defendant asserted a self-defense action against Plaintiff. Following a nonjury trial, the court found in Defendant’s favor.Plaintiff appealed.
Whether a defendant who uses reasonable force to defend himself or herself in self-defense may be shielded from liability in an assault or battery action.
Yes, a defendant who uses reasonable force to defend himself or herself in self-defense may be shielded from liability in an assault or battery action.
When a defendant uses reasonable force in self defense to defend himself or herself, then the defendant is shielded from a claim of assault and battery. The court must evaluate which party was the first aggressor and whether the person asserting self-defense used a reasonable amount of force to defend himself or herself. In this case, the court properly found that Plaintiff was the first aggressor and Defendant used a reasonable amount of force to prevent the attack against the Plaintiff. Therefore, the trial court’s judgment is affirmed.