Answer To MBE Question From November 14th

(A) is correct.

Issue: Whether the husband has a valid defense against a claim of battery for punching the person who struck his wife.

Rule: Battery is defined as harmful or offensive contact upon the plaintiff, caused by an intentional act by the defendant. Any contact with another person can be a battery. No actual harm or damage is required. There is a defense to a charge of battery where a person has a right or justification to use reasonable physical force to prevent another from injuring him or a third person.

Analysis: Here, the husband’s attack on the guest satisfies the elements of battery: he intentionally caused  a  harmful  contact  with  the  guest’s  person  (i.e.,  he  punched  the  guest). While no harm is required, he did in fact break the guest’s nose and thus it is unquestionably a battery. The husband did not have a defense because his wife was no longer in any danger of being struck by the guest as the facts clearly state that the guest apologized profusely after hitting her.


(A) is correct. The wife was no longer in any danger when the husband struck the guest. Therefore, the husband was not justified in striking the guest.

(B) is incorrect because the  husband  was  not  acting  in  defense  of  his  wife  since  the  guest’s  actions  were  concluded. The husband was only retaliating for the guest’s actions. Retaliation (as opposed to self-defense or defense of a third party) is not a justification for battery.

(C) is incorrect because legally, retaliation is not reasonable, and hence it is not a defense.

(D) is incorrect because even if the husband did not fear for himself, he did have the right to defend his wife. However, when there was no longer any risk of the guest punching the wife and it was clear the guest made a mistake which he regretted, the husband no longer had the right to commit a battery against the guest.