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LAW 122 (614)
Chapter 4

ch. 4 -Intentional Torts.docx

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Ryerson University
Law and Business
LAW 122
Theresa Miedema

Chapter 4 – Intentional Torts - Intentional torts involve intentional, rather than careless conduct o Tort law’s definition of “intention” goes even further – it’s enough if the defendant knew that a particular act would have consequences o The plaintiff doesn’t have to prove that the defendant intended to either cause harm or commit a tort o Courts have adopted that broad definition of “intention” b/c they want to strongly protect the interests that you have in yourself, and your property, etc. o From a risk mngmt perspective, before acting in a particular way, you should know as much as possible about the consequences of doing so Assault and Battery - Lawyers use the word “assault” to describe the crime that occurs when one person physically attacks another - In tort: o Assault occurs when the defendant intentionally causes the plaintiff to reasonably believe that offensive bodily contact is imminent 1) The tort isn’t based on physical contact, it’s based on a reasonable belief that such contact will occur • The tort is designed to keep the peace by discouraging people form alarming others • Swing your first w/o actually making contact – assault • Punch someone from behind, you don’t commit the tort of assault if the person didn’t know the blow was coming = tort of battery 2) It’s enough if the plaintiff reasonably believed that bodily contact would occur • May commit an assault by pointing a gun in my direction, even if it’s not loaded 3) The plaintiff must have believed that bodily contract was imminent • You wouldn’t commit an assault if you threatened to kick me 2 weeks from today – the threat must be more immediate 4) An assault can occur even if the plaintiff wasn’t frightened • It’s enough that the defendant threatened some form of offensive contact • You may commit an assault by swinging your first at me even if I know that you are too far too small to do any harm - People usually don’t sue for just assault alone, its not worth the trouble and expense of litigation, so a claim for assault is usually combined with a claim for battery o Abattery consists of offensive bodily contact 1) The requirement of “bodily contact” isn’t strictly applied • It’s enough if the defendant causes something, such as a knife or a bullet to touch the plaintiff or makes contact with the plaintiff’s clothing or with something that the plaintiff is holding 2) Not every form of contact is offensive – normal social interaction is allowed • But contact can be offensive even it it’s not harmful • Brush by someone in a crowded area/tap on shoulder to get attention – no battery • Kiss someone despite their objections = battery • May commit a tort even if your actions are highly beneficial (when a physician performs a live-saving blood transfusion against a patient’s wishes) 3) To avoid vicarious liability and the need for risk mngmt, employed security personnel should be trained to use reasonable force • Bouncers and security often injure patrons whom they eject from taverns, concerts and sporting events • Ay be sued in tort or prosecuted for a crime if you go overboard – set a deadly trap to catch a burglar, or viciously beat a thief - Damages for battery may be reduced if the victim provoked the attack Invasion of Privacy - Currently no general tort of “invasion of privacy” - Courts have been reluctant to recognize a tort for this b/c they want to support freedom of expression and freedom of info o They are concerned about defining the concept of privacy in a way that strikes a fair balance between the parties o They are reluctant to award damages in favour of celebrities who seek out publicity, but then complain when they are shown in a bad light o They find it difficult to calculate compensatory damages for the kinds of harm, such as embarrassment, that an invasion of privacy usually causes - Privacy is indirectly protected by several torts - New Zealand’s highest court accepted the argument of a separate tort of invasion of privacy, andAustralia’s inclined to follow suit, Canada isn’t far behind - Ex. a judge imposed liability upon a couple who as part of a petty feud, installed a surveillance camera that monitored their neighbours backyard. The law generally doesn’t prohibit one person from watching another, but the judge held that an intentional invasion of privacy won’t be permitted. - Abalance must be struck in each case between the right to privacy and freedom of expression. - Aubry was decided under Quebec’s civil law - In 2005, parliament enacted section 162 of the Criminal Code – the crime of “voyeurism” is committed by secretly observing or recording a person “in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy,” if that person is engaged in sexual activity or is partially/fully nude o Acrime is also committed by anyone who “prints, copies, publishes, distributes, circulates, sells, advertises or makes available” a prohibited recording - Several provinces have created statutory causes of action to protect privacy interests while those statuses vary from jurisdictions, they generally impose liability if a person “wilfully” violates another’s privacy by doing something that they know to be wrong - The definition of “privacy” has been left open so that courts can flexibly respond to different types of situations False Imprisonment - False imprisonment: occurs when a person is confined within a fixed area w/o justification o That would be true if the plaintiff was physically dragged to a prison and thrown into a locked cell o The scope of the tort, is a lot wider than that  Unjustified – no consent • Bus passenger can’t demand unscheduled stop  Complete confinement • An actual prison isn’t necessary – the tort can be committed if a person is trapped in a car, locked in a room, etc, but the confinement must be practically complete – the defendant doesn’t commit a false imprisonment by obstructing one path while leaving another open, of if the plaintiff can easily escape  Confinement – includes physical and psychological • Atort may be committed if a shopper accompanies a security guard to a backroom in order to avoid public embarrassment – the judge has to decide whether the plaintiff voluntarily chose to go to the backroom (no liability), or whether the plaintiff believed that there was really no other option (liability) • Being confronted by a person in uniform makes many people feel that they have no choice but to do as they are told – theft detection alarm goes off when a customer leaves the store  Without authority – business can be liable it if directed the officer to “make an arrest,” rather than starting the facts and allowing the officer to draw a conclusion - Rules that apply to private citizens often create difficulties for business people o Ex. Aperson who objects to the price of a meal and tries to leave the restaurant w/o fully paying the bill usually commits a breach of contract, but not a crime – the law could allow the business to detain the customer (or their property) until it receives payment, but that violates customer’s freedom of moment. They could also allow the business to sue the customer for breach of contract, but pointless b/c small amount for a huge expense  Restaurant may be liable for false imprisonment if it tries to arrest the customer - False imprisonment doesn’t occur if the plaintiff consented to being confined - Malicious prosecution – occurs when the defendant improperly causes the plaintiff to be prosecuted o Even though a business didn’t direct a police officer to make an arrest (and can’t be held liable for false imprisonment) they can be liable for the tort of malicious prosecution  The court has to be satisfied that: 1) Plaintiff must prove the defendant started the proceedings 2) Out of malice, or for some improper purpose 3) Without honest belief in guilt on reasonable ground that a crime has been committed 4) The plaintiff was eventually found not guilty of crime - Even though the tort of false imprisonment is quiet wide, the defendant will not be held liable if the plaintiff agrees to be confined - Consent is a complete defence to all intentional torts - Although a false imprisonment can be committed by wrongfully detaining someone’s valuable property, the tort doesn’t arise if the plaintiff agreed to that arrangement o Ex. Removing a car from a parking lot w/o paying fee Trespass to Land - Trespass to land: occurs when the defendant improperly interferes with the plaintiff’s land o Tort can still arise even if: Ex. Kick a ball into your yard, even though not going to get it or if lawn care company accidently cuts your grass instead of neighbours  It’s enough if you intended to do the act, even if it didn’t intend to do wrong or cause damage o The law wants to protect property interests o Person who has the right to the piece of property also has rights to the air about it and the ground beneath it
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