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.