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Note: References of the form “Ch.x…” (e.g., “Ch.2(IV)(A)(1)”) are to the full-length Emanuel Law Outlines: Torts, Tenth Edition, 2015.

1. Yes.The distinction here is between intent and motive. Intent is the desire to cause a certain immediate result; motive is why the tortfeasor chose to behave a certain way. A battery is the intentional infliction of a harmful or offensive bodily contact. The required intent is the intent to make a contact (or to create an apprehension of a contact). It is not necessary that the defendant desire to harm the plaintiff, as long as he intends the contact and the contact is in fact harmful or offensive. The harmful touching here was mis-setting the arm; Juliet voluntarily set the arm as she did, so she satisfies the intent element of battery. Her motive was to help, but that by itself won’t relieve her of liability. Ch.2(IV).

NOTE: Motive isn’t an element of any intentional tort, but it can be relevant. It can aggravate, mitigate, or excuse a tort. For instance, acting with malice can justify “punitive” damages. Acting in self-defense can excuse a tort. But there are other motives that don’t have an impact on liability for intentional torts. For instance, say Romeo kissed Juliet without her consent. The fact that his motive was to compliment her wouldn’t mitigate his liability to her. Similarly, if Juliet pushed Romeo as a joke, the fact that she intended only a joke doesn’t change the nature of the act; it’s still a battery. Ch.2(IV)(A)(1).

2. Yes. The “intent” requirement for battery is satisfied if D either (a) intended to cause a harmful or offensive contact; or (b) intended to cause in another person an apprehension of a harmful or offensive contact. Where D’s conduct falls within (b), D will be liable for battery if the conduct causes (directly or indirectly) a harmful or offensive contact. Here, even though the attack itself was unintended, the harmful contact was the result of Calvin’s intentional act (taking the mean tiger out and putting it near Susie to frighten her). Since Calvin “set the force [the tiger] in motion,” he’ll be liable for battery. Ch.2(IV)(D)(1).

3.  No. Assault is an “intentional” tort, and the intent required is that D either desired to cause a harmful-or-offensive contact, or desired to place P or another in apprehension of such a contact. Here, Speed Racer may have intended to drive (and even intended to drive extremely fast), but he didn’t intend either to hit anyone or frighten anyone, so there’s no assault.

RELATED ISSUE: Say that as Speed Racer approaches the stop sign, he sees Chim-Chim, and speeds up with the idea of scaring the bejesus out of Chim-Chim. Since Speed intends to scare Chim-Chim, there would be an assault.

RELATED ISSUE: Say that as Speed Racer approaches the stop sign, he sees Chim-Chim and, hoping to scare Chim-Chim, aims his car at him, intending to swerve away at the last moment. The car skids and hits Chim-Chim. Speed would be liable for battery (as well as assault) even though he didn’t intend to hit Chim Chim, because he intended to scare him and he did in fact touch him, and that’s enough for a battery.

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