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I. Exam Tips on


For three of the torts covered in this chapter – battery, assault and false imprisonment – you shouldn’t have much trouble spotting the tort on an essay exam. The fourth tort – intentional infliction of emotional distress – can be easier to miss. Since these are all “intentional” torts, it’s not surprising that the most commonly-tested issues relate to intent. Here are the main things to look for:


*       Battery generally:  Look for a battery issue whenever you have what seems to be a “harmful or offensive contact.

+      DefinitionIf you spot a battery problem, introduce your discussion with the following definition: “Battery is the intentional infliction of a harmful or offensive bodily contact.”

+      Intent“Intent” is probably the most frequently tested sub-issue in battery.

o       Desire to cause contactOne type of intent is “desire to cause contact.” That’s a pretty obvious and spottable type of intent. (Example: D swings at P and hits him.)

o       Desire to frightenAnother type of intent is “desire to frighten.” Remember that even if D didn’t intend contact to occur (and just wanted to make P think it would) this “intent to cause assault” is enough for battery, if contact ensues. (Example: D swings at P, intending to just miss P’s nose, but miscalculates and makes contact.)

o       Substantial certainty: Finally, there’s the “substantially certain” variety of intent – if D knows that a harmful or offensive contact is “substantially certain” to occur, the fact that D doesn’t “desire” that contact is irrelevant.

ExampleD is repossessing P’s car, while P is on the running board – if D knows that P is substantially certain to fall off, that’s enough for battery even though D doesn’t desire that P fall.

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