Prince’s Briefcase: Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Hill (Hicks Torts)


Hick Torts: Assault

Here is a case from my Torts class which explains the concept of an “assault.” Each professor has his own definition of “assault” but its concept is still universal.

Case Name, Citation Number, Author
Western Union Telegraph Co v. Hill, 67 F.2d 487, 1933 U.S. App.

prince's briefcase (princesdailyjournal)Facts
–Mrs. Hill, Plaintiff; Sapp (Western Union Telegraph Co.), Defendant
–Mrs. Hill visited Mr. Sapp to have her clock fixed, and Mr. Sapp attempted to put his hand on Mrs. Hill from across his counter, coupled with a request that she must come behind the counter and allow him to love and pet her, in order to fix Mrs. Hill’s clock.

Issue
Was there such an assault that will justify an action for damages?

Rule
Assault: an unlawful attempt to commit a battery, incomplete by reason of some intervening cause; or t constitute an actionable assault there must be an intentional, unlawful, offer to touch the person of another in a rude manner, to create fear. Go to Notes for Prof Hick’s definition.

Requirements: 1) Fear 2) Coupled with the apparent present ability to effectuate the attempt.

Explanation
–Mr. Sapp committed assault when he reached out his hand and said repeatedly, “Come back here and let me love you and pet you; I will fix your clock?”
–The court did not mistake its interpretation of assault; the assault was completed

Notes
–Hicks Definition of Assault: An (1) Intentional (2) act (gesture), to (3) cause apprehension (fear), in the present imminent, with a (4) reasonable belief that you will do it. THE VICTIM OF THE ASSAULT HAS TO BE AWARE OF YOUR ACTIONS. IF NOT, THEN NO ASSAULT. 
–No actual damage need to be proven for assault
–Assault is not an attempted battery.

Prince’s Takeaway
An assault is to cause an imminent apprehension towards someone with the belief that you are going to apprehend (or harm) him or her.
Pointing a unloaded gun at someone’s head is considered an assault. Some have considered carry an unconcealed weapon on your waist as an assault as well.

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