I. Assault and Battery: Reconciling Harm with Culpability | emasters | November 20, 2014

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I. Assault and Battery: Reconciling Harm with Culpability

Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain Current Version: emasters Show/Hide

What’s a tort? It’s a wrong that a court is prepared to recognize, usually in the form of ordering the transfer of money (“damages”) from the wrongdoer to the wronged. The court is usually alerted to wrong by the filing of a lawsuit: anyone can walk through the courthouse doors and, subject to the limits explored in civil procedure, call someone else (or, if a company, something) to account.

The first section of our course deals with that group of torts known as intentional. We’ll review the spectrum of intent that marks the sometimes-fuzzy boundaries among wrongs that are done intentionally, those done merely “negligently,” and others in between, and also have a chance to think about what kinds of damages should be on the table once a wrong is established. What happens when an act that’s only a little bit wrongful, even while intentional, results in unexpectedly large harm?

We’ll also discuss the sources that courts turn to in order to answer such questions. Rarely, in tort cases, are those sources the ones laypeople expect: statutes passed by legislatures. Without statutes to guide them, what are courts left with?

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    1. 1.1 Show/Hide More Vosburg v. Putney--"The Schoolboy Kicker"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain Current Version: emasters
      Should defendants be liable for unforeseeable injuries?
    2. 1.2 Show/Hide More Alcorn v. Mitchell--"The Angry Spitter"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain Current Version: emasters
      Should damages for battery encompass indignities as well as physical injuries? Should juries be able to assign extra damages for particularly malicious or bad-natured conduct?
    1. 2.1 Show/Hide More Picard v. Barry Pontiac-Buick, Inc.--"The Camera Toucher"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain Current Version: emasters
      Should intentional contact with an object attached to the plaintiff constitute battery? For the tort of assault, should we consider if defendant intended to cause apprehension in the plaintiff?
    2. 2.2 Show/Hide More Garratt v. Dailey--"The Chair-Pulling Five Year Old"
      Original Creator: jcochran Current Version: emasters
      Should defendants be liable if they knowingly expose the plaintiff to a near certainty of harmful contact? If so, should liability still be assigned even if the defendant did not act for the purpose of hurting the plaintiff?
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November 20, 2014

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