Answer To MBE Question From November 27th

(D) is correct.

Issue: Does the woman have a tort claim against the man when she was not touched nor did she fear being touched?

Rule: Assault – an intentional tort – is defined as causing another person to reasonably fear harmful or offensive bodily contact. Assault is an attempt to commit a battery. No actual injury is needed for an assault claim; fear of injury is sufficient and nominal damages are available. A battery is defined as harmful or offensive contact upon the plaintiff caused by an intentional act  by the defendant. There must be contact with the person of another or “anything reasonably  connected  with  that  person.”  Any touching of another person can be sufficient for a claim of battery; no harm or actual damage is required. Finally, a trespass to a chattel may be committed by intentionally dispossessing another of the chattel or using or intermeddling with a chattel in the possession of another. Actual damages must be proved for a valid trespass to chattel claim.

Analysis:  Here,  the  man  intentionally  caused  an  offensive  contact  with  the  woman’s  backpack.  Because  the  woman  was  wearing  the  backpack,  the  backpack  was reasonably  connected  to  her  person and thus the man can be liable for battery.

(D) is correct. The  backpack  was  “reasonably  connected  with”  the  woman  and  thus  the  woman  may  have a battery claim against the man since he caused an offensive contact upon the backpack while she was wearing it.

(A) is incorrect because battery does not require that the plaintiff actually be touched. Touching anything closely associated with the person is adequate.

(B) is incorrect because there were no actual damages to the backpack. In a trespass to chattel action, actual damages must be proved.

(C) is  incorrect because  there  can  be  no  assault  if  the  woman  did  not  have  an  imminent apprehension of being touched.