Wallace v. Rosen
COA IN - 2002
- P was recovering from foot surgery and was delivering homework to her daughter at school. She found her daughter at the top of a stairwell and stopped there.
- D was a teacher at the school. A fire drill began. D instructed everyone to move down the stairs and evacuate. P was unable to hear the command.
- D put her hand on P's back to try to direct her, and P fell down the stairs.
- P claimed D pushed her down the stairs; D denies this assertion.
- At trial, the judge refused to instruct the jury on civil battery.
- Trial court found for D, no battery.
- IN COA affirmed, found for D, trial court did not need to give jury instruction on civil battery.
- Did the court make an error in its conclusion that casual, intentional touching does not warrant a jury instruction for civil battery?
- A battery is the knowing or intentional touching of one person by another in a rude, insolent, or angry manner.
- The court was right in not issuing a jury instruction on civil battery.
- Knowledge of the risks of touching may establish the actor's negligence, but not the requisite intent for civil battery.
- To form this intent, one must intend to bring about a result invasive of another's interests, even if injury is not intended.
- For a battery instruction to be justified, the evidence must establish that…
- And that D did so in a rude, insolent, or angry manner.
- The evidence does not support the second point.
- D had a duty to expedite the evacuation from the building, and P could reasonably expect some physical contact in the crowded stairwell.
- There was no intent to bring about an invasive result.
- Not every contact is harmful and offensive even if the P feels that it was.
- It's an objective standard (would an ordinary person feel the contact offensive).