INTENTIONAL TORTS AGAINST THE PERSON
This chapter is concerned with four “intentional” torts that are committed against “the person” (as opposed to being committed against property): (1) battery; (2) assault; (3) false imprisonment; and (4) infliction of emtional distress. (In later chapters, we will consider non-intentional torts related to some of the torts discussed in this chapter. For instance, we will consider the tort of negligent infliction of mental distress infra, p. 216.) Here are the key concepts in this chapter:
- Intentional: Each of the torts covered here is committed only if the defendant acted “intentionally.” However, the precise meaning of “intent” is different for each of the torts.
- Transferred intent: Under the doctrine of “transferred intent,” if D held the necessary intent with respect to person A, he will be held to have committed an intentional tort against any other person who happens to be injured.
- Battery: Battery is the intentional infliction of a harmful or offensive bodily contact.
- Assault: Assault is the intentional causing of an apprehension of harmful or offensive bodily contact
- Imminence: It must appear to P that the harm being threatened is imminent, and that D has a present ability to carry out the threat.
- False imprisonment: False imprisonment is defined as the intentional infliction of a confinement.
- Infliction of mental distress: Intentional infliction of mental distress is defined as the intentional or reckless infliction, by extreme and outrageous conduct, of severe emotional or mental distress, even in the absence of physical harm.
I. “INTENT” DEFINED
A. Intent generally: What exactly must a tortfeasor intend to do in order for him to commit an “intentional” tort against another person? For instance, suppose that “battery” is defined as the intentional infliction of a harmful or offensive contact (the definition given infra, p. 11). Suppose further that we are interested in determining whether a slap given by A to B’s face is a battery. Does A have the necessary intent if he merely intended to move his hands through the air as a gesture to make a point, and did not intend either to touch B or to frighten her? What if he did intend to touch her, but did not intend to harm her?