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In Chapter 1, the outline of intentional torts included battery, assault, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, trespass to land, trespass to chattels, and conversion. In order to give the reader a sense of how intentional torts occur in the area of pharmacy practice, cases where intentional tort issues have been decided upon will be the topics for discussion in this chapter. Therefore, not all of the intentional tort areas will be covered since case law pertaining to pharmacy practice is either insufficient (eg, conversion [taking something that belongs to another]) or, for all practical purposes, not applicable (eg, trespass to land or trespass to chattel [mainly involves animals]). Cases involving battery, assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, however, do arise in the realm of pharmacy practice.

Before we discuss the three intentional torts noted previously, it is important to understand what is meant by the term “intent.”


Each of the four intentional torts discussed in the following must have a provable element of “intent.” Unlike evidence, which is based on objective observance, intent is generally viewed from a subjective perspective. Subjectivity is a state of mind in which the defendant has exclusive knowledge in attaining a specific purpose with substantial certainty.1 As an example, if the defendant wishes to hit someone with his fist, he must somehow think about it as a result of some issue that provoked him into accomplishing the specific objective of making physical contact with the plaintiff.

Objective evidence confirms in the mind of the observer that the defendant had the purpose of committing a tortious act.2 If the observer notes certain evidence that supports the contention that the defendant acted with intent, that objective observation becomes important in supporting that the defendant had tortious intent. As an example, if the defendant physically hits the plaintiff, one might look to such objective evidence as: was there a verbal confrontation before the battery with supporting words that the defendant would strike the plaintiff; did the defendant raise his voice in anger; or did the defendant clench his fists or raise his arms in a threatening manner immediately preceding his striking the plaintiffimage

The cases presented in this chapter will focus on the objective evidence presented, as well as the result caused by the defendant’s intentional action.

Battery and Assault

Battery and assault are two separate intentional torts, each having its own definition:

Battery: The defendant’s intentional infliction of a harmful or offensive contact on the plaintiff, lacking plaintiff’s consent.

Assault: The defendant’s intent to cause in the plaintiff a reasonable apprehension of an immediate contact or offensive contact.

The following 1906 Minnesota case demonstrates two important issues: (1) whether a health care professional ...

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