II. Assault and Battery: Intent and Autonomy | Jonathan Zittrain | June 24, 2011


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II. Assault and Battery: Intent and Autonomy

by Jonathan Zittrain Show/Hide

In the absence of statutes that clearly delineate acceptable from unacceptable behavior – that’s the realm of criminal law, and still plenty complicated – tort law often requires a court to draw boundaries on the fly as individual cases come up. Here we look at a cluster of problems arising generally from situations in which society might say the wrongness of an act may be minimal or entirely lacking – yet a victim steps forward to earnestly claim that his or her wishes about bodily integrity have been disrespected.

The rough and tumble of daily life – “the implied license of the playground” – allows some license for those who offend with physical contact, including against the especially sensitive. When does that license end, particularly if a plaintiff’s special sensitivities are known to a defendant? Are there any larger principles at work to help us resolve conflicts in this zone, or that at least capture the instincts that might find themselves in opposition?


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      1. 1.1.1 Show/Hide More Wishnatsky v. Huey-- “The Overly-Sensitive Intruder”
        Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
        Should findings of offensive-contact-battery be based on a plaintiff’s level of sensitivity, or a more general standard?
    1. 1.2 Show/Hide More O'Brien v. Cunard--"The Silent Vaccine Objector"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
      Should we expect actors to respect the inner wishes of others, even when those desires contradict—or at least fail to be reflected in—external behavior?
    1. 2.1 Show/Hide More Leichtman v. WLW Jacor Communications, Inc. -- "The Smoke in the Face Case"
      Original Creator: jcochran Current Version: Jonathan Zittrain
      Should a smoker's license to freely blow his smoke be limited by the sensitivity of non-smokers?
    2. 2.2 Show/Hide More Werth v. Taylor -- "The Blood-Transfusion-Refusing Jehovah's Witness"
      Original Creator: jcochran Current Version: Jonathan Zittrain
      Should health care professionals be allowed to administer life-saving, emergency treatment when there is a possibility that the patient would have refused?
    1. 3.1 Show/Hide More Womack v. Eldridge--"The Distressing Accusation of Molestation"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
      Should we hold people accountable for causing severe distress in others, even if no physical contact—or the threat thereof—was involved?

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