The Restatement (Second) of Torts provides that an actor commits a battery if:
- He acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with the person of the other or a third person, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact, and
- A harmful [or offensive] contact with the person of the other directly or indirectly results
It is important to realize that the tortfeasor needs to intend to cause a harmful or offensive contact or an imminent apprehension of such contact. However, the tortfeasor does not need to intend the contact to the one who was actually harmed. If he intended the contact to a third person, yet injured a bystander, the tortfeasor may still be liable for battery.
What is harmful contact? Harmful contact causes pain or bodily damage. What is offensive contact? Offensive contact is said to occur when the contact “offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity.” Restatement (Second) of Torts § 19. The tortfeasor does not need to be aware that the contact is offensive.
Whenever you are analyzing battery make sure that you examine any defenses the tortfeasor might raise (i.e. consent). Upon proof of battery or assault, the plaintiff is entitled to recover nominal damages plus compensatory damages for bodily pain, humiliation, mental anguish and other injuries that occur as a necessary and natural consequence of the tortious conduct. Further, punitive damages should also be considered.