Assault, Battery, False Imprisonment IIED Fact Pattern
In the following hypothetical, identify the intentional torts and available defenses involved, if any, and support your answers.
Leroy frequented a pub called Bottom’s Up. Late one Saturday night, an intoxicated man began shouting obscenities at a woman sitting at the table next to Leroy’s. The woman ignored the man and continued to drink her beer. The man approached the lady, looking ominous. Leroy stood and asked the fellow over to the bar for a drink. The man grumbled that Leroy should mind his own business. The man reached out and grabbed the woman’s wrist, and Leroy neatly twisted the man’s other arm behind his back while restraining him with a neck hold. The man protested vehemently, but Leroy did not let go. Leroy placed the man firmly into a chair and told him not to move or else Leroy would have to punch him. The woman told Leroy that the man was her husband and asked him to leave them both alone. Leroy left the bar. The man sued Leroy for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.
Please discuss in full each of the foregoing torts and whether Leroy has any defenses to the man’s complaint.
The issues identified in this fact pattern are:
- Whether Leroy committed an assault on the drunken husband (DH) when Leroy believed DH was about to assault a woman and Leroy grabbed and restrained the man believing he was defending the woman from an assault?
- Whether Leroy committed battery on the DH when Leroy believed the man was about to assault a woman and Leroy grabbed and restrained DH believing he was defending the woman against an assault?
- Whether Leroy falsely imprisoned the DH when after physically subduing DH from what Leroy thought was a possible assault, Leroy placed the man in a chair and told the man that if he moved, he would be punched?
- Whether DH suffered the intentional infliction of emotional distress when Leroy physically subdued DH and told DH that if he moved, he would be punched.
Issue 1: Assault
An assault occurs when defendant intentionally acts to cause the victim to have a fear or apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact. Or that the defendant was substantially certain that the contact would cause such an apprehension. 
In order for the assault to occur, the victim must “perceive” the apprehension.  If the victim is attacked from behind or asleep, the victim cannot experience a perception of any imminent or offensive bodily contact and thus, no assault can occur.  When Leroy “neatly twisted DH’s other arm behind his back while restraining him with a neck hold,” the facts suggest that DH had his attention on his wife as he attempted to grab her wrist and was unware of Leroy. Leroy was seemingly behind DH and began to twist DH’s arm behind his back while also placing him in a neck hold from behind. Because of these facts, it is likely that a court would find that DH did not experience the required apprehension and no assault occurred.
Conversely, another scenario could be that DH was able to perceive the actions of Leroy and did have an apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact. In such a case, even though Leroy mistakenly believed he was acting in the defense of DH’s wife, the Mistake Doctrine does not afford Leroy a privilege that would shield him from tort liability.  Thus, a court would likely find that Leroy did commit an assault.
In addition, when Leroy placed DH firmly into a chair and told him not to move or else he would be punched, DH did experience an apprehension of imminent harmful and or offensive contact. The apprehension was reasonable since Leroy had already twisted DH’s arm, put him in a neck hold and firmly placed DH into a chair. Because of the facts in this scenario, it is likely that a court will find that Leroy did commit an assault.
A battery occurs when the defendant intentionally causes unwanted, harmful or offensive contact between he and the victim.  The defendant does not need to intend for the contact to be harmful.  What is required is that the defendant intends that the contact is either harmful and/or offensive. When Leroy twisted DH’s arm and put DH in a headlock, it was clear that Leroy intended to have the contact to be both harmful and offensive to DH in that Leroy intended the contact to be such that it would become the primary factor to influence DH’s decision making process and compel DH to do as Leroy commanded. As in the assault issue, even though Leroy mistakenly believed he was acting in the defense of DH’s wife, the Mistake Doctrine does not afford Leroy a privilege that would shield him from tort liability.  Thus, a court would likely find that Leroy did commit a battery on DH.
Issue 3: False Imprisonment
False imprisonment occurs when the defendant unlawfully acts to intentionally cause confinement or restraint of the victim within a bounded area.  The confinement or restraint used can consist of physical barriers, as well as force, or the threat of force against the victim, the victim’s family, others in the immediate area, or force used upon the victim’s property.  In general, the victim must not be left with a reasonable and dignified means of egress and the victim must be aware of the confinement.
When Leroy firmly seated DH and told him if he moved, he would be punched, that act constituted the confinement of DH by Leroy to a bounded area (the chair) under the threat of immediate force against DH. Leroy could argue that he did not falsely imprison DH because he was thought he was acting in defense of the wife and that he only intended to keep DH at bay while he prevented what he thought was an assault. However, the Mistake Doctrine is once again invoked and Leroy’s mistaken belief that the wife needed to be defended does not shield him from tort liability
Issue 4: IIED
To prevail in a COA for IIED, the defendant must satisfy the following elements:
- The defendant’s conduct must have been extreme and outrageous.
- The defendant must have had the intent to cause severe emotional distress, or the defendant must have acted recklessly to cause the distress.
- The conduct must be the cause of the victim experiencing extreme emotional distress. 
To make a determination of whether a court would find for or against DH, we can begin by examining whether Leroy’s behavior was extreme and outrageous. Extreme and outrageous behavior is behavior that shocks the conscious of the average person. It is behavior that is beyond the bounds of human decency and is considered intolerable in a civilized society.  When Leroy saw an intoxicated DH shouting obscenities and ominously approaching the woman, to diffuse a possible volatile situation, Leroy stood and asked DH over to the bar for a drink. From an objective viewpoint, Leroy’s behavior at that point was not extreme or outrageous.
When DH grabbed the woman’s wrist, Leroy, believing this was an assault and battery, acted to restrain the man from doing what Leroy believed was further harm to the woman. This action was not extreme and outrageous. When Leroy firmly seated the drunken DH in a chair and threatened to punch him if he moved, considering the totality of the circumstances, Leroy’s behavior was not extreme and outrageous. In fact, Leroy’s behavior reflects behavior which the average person would have engaged in if they believed DH was a drunken man who was attempting to batter a woman in a pub. Because of these facts, the first element requiring extreme and outrageous behavior is not satisfied.
When Leroy acted to defend the woman against what he thought was an assault, his intent was self-defense and his actions reflected what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation. Because of this fact, the second element is not satisfied.
To satisfy the last element, DH must prove the he experienced extreme mental distress.  This can usually be done by a medical professional diagnosing a mental or physiological condition which resulted from the extreme and outrageous behavior of Leroy. While the fact pattern does not supply any facts regarding a diagnosis, to address the causation issue we can look at the extreme and outrageous element for guidance. Because extreme and outrageous behavior is required to cause the severe mental distress, without this behavior, the inference is that the distress cannot have manifested.
Applying the law to this set of facts, it is likely that DH’s IIED claim would not prevail.
 John L. Diamond, Lawrence C. Levine & Anita Bernstein, Understanding torts 10 (2013).
 Id. at 11.
 Id. at 5.
 Id. at 7.
 Diamond, at 5.
 Id. at 14.
 Id. at 15.
 Id. at 20.
 Id. at 23.