Intentional Torts

Intentional torts require three generic elements:

  1. Intent

  2. Impact

  3. Harm/Injury

    Another way to look at it is: Intent = conscious act + either purpose to produce the legally relevant consequences, or knowledge that the legally relevant consequences are substantially certain to occur.


Leichtman v. WLW Jacor Communications


Battery occurs when an individual acts intending to carry out a harmful or offensive contact upon another person, and the harmful or offensive contact does result.

  • Even the slightest touching out of anger is battery

  • “Contact” does not have to be “harmful”—it can be “offensive”

  • One can only use the threat of death or serious bodily harm if the intruder is threatening or likely to cause death or serious bodily harm

  • The privilege to defend property is limited to reasonable force necessary to the situation.


Beach v. Hancock


Assault requires two main elements must be present:

  1. The act was intended to cause apprehension of harmful or offensive contact; and

  2. The act indeed caused apprehension in the victim that harmful or offensive contact would occur

  • Assault also accounts for fear of harm and protects dignity

  • Assault includes reasonable apprehension


Coblyn v. Kennedy’s Inc.


False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is the intent to restrain plus actual restraint (by force, words that one fears to disregard, apparent legal authority or failure to fulfill a duty to furnish an exit). Some jurisdiction require an awareness of confinement.

  • Restraint by words must be words a person would fear to disregard

  • Restraint includes apparent legal authority

Harris v. Jones

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

IIED is the intent to cause Severe Emotional Distress (subjective) by relatively extreme and outrageous conduct which actually causes Severe Emotional Distress (objective).

  • There can be IIED when one intentionally subjects another to mental suffering incident to serious threats to physical well-being, whether or not the threats are made under such circumstances as to constitute a technical assault

  • Mere insult is not severe emotional distress

  • The defendant must know their actions will cause severe emotional distress. Their actions must be purposeful

  • Transferred intent does not apply, because any time someone is seriously injured it could cause severe emotional distress to family members, even if they’re not watching