Restatement (Second) of Torts

Current through September 2006

Copyright 1965-2006 by the American Law Institute


Division 1. Intentional Harms To Persons, Land, And Chattels

Chapter 2. Intentional Invasions Of Interests In Personality

Topic 1. The Interest In Freedom From Harmful Bodily Contact

16. Character Of Intent Necessary

Link to Case Citations

(1) If an act is done with the intention of inflicting upon another an offensive but not a harmful bodily contact, or of putting another in apprehension of either a harmful or offensive bodily contact, and such act causes a bodily contact to the other, the actor is liable to the other for a battery although the act was not done with the intention of bringing about the resulting bodily harm.

(2) If an act is done with the intention of affecting a third person in the manner stated in Subsection (1), but causes a harmful bodily contact to another, the actor is liable to such other as fully as though he intended so to affect him.


See Reporter's Notes.

Comment on Subsection (1):

a. In order that the actor shall be liable under the rule stated in this Section, it is not necessary that he intend to bring about the harmful contact which results from his act. It is enough that he intends to bring about an offensive contact or an apprehension of either a harmful or offensive contact, and that the bodily harm results as a legal consequence from such offensive contact or from such apprehension. The interest in freedom from either form of contact or from the apprehension of it is so far a part of the other's interest in his bodily security that the intention to inflict an offensive contact or to create an apprehension of either a harmful or offensive contact is sufficient to make the actor liable for a harmful contact resulting therefrom, even though such harmful contact was not intended.


1. Intending an offensive contact, A lightly kicks B on the shin. The blow, although offensive, is so slight that it would normally cause no bodily harm. B is suffering from a diseased leg, of which A neither knows nor has reason to know. The slight blow so aggravates the diseased condition as to result in a prolonged and expensive illness, which finally leads to permanent harm to the leg. A is subject to liability to B for the bodily harm caused by his act.

2. A is playing golf. B, his caddie, is inattentive and A becomes angry. Intending to frighten but not to harm B, A aims a blow at him with a golf club which he stops some eight inches from B's head. Owing to the negligence of the club maker from whom A has just bought the club, the rivet which should have secured the head is defective, though A could not have discovered the defect without removing the head. The head of the club flies off and strikes B in the eye, putting it out. A is subject to liability to B for the loss of his eye.

Comment on Subsection (2):

b. The intention which is necessary to make the actor liable under the rule stated in this Section is not necessarily an intention to cause a harmful or offensive contact or an apprehension of such contact to the plaintiff himself or otherwise to cause him bodily harm. It is enough that the actor intends to produce such an effect upon some other person and that his act so intended is the legal cause of a harmful contact to the other. It is not necessary that the actor know or have reason even to suspect that the other is in the vicinity of the third person whom the actor intends to affect and, therefore, that he should recognize that his act, though directed against the third person, involves a risk of causing bodily harm to the other so that the act would be negligent toward him.


3. A and B are trespassers upon C's land. C sees A but does not see B, nor does he know that B is in the neighborhood. C throws a stone at A. Immediately after C has done so, B raises his head above a wall behind which he has been hiding. The stone misses A but strikes B, putting out his eye. C is subject to liability to B.