Torts I, Pages 32–35

Wallace v. Rosen

Court of Appeals of Indiana, 2002

Facts:

Wallace was visiting her daughter’s school when a fire alarm sounded. Rosen, a teacher at the school, placed her hand on plaintiff's shoulder/back, turned her 90° towards the exit, and told her to get moving. Wallace fell down the stairs and alleged that Rosen pushed her, which Rosen denied.

Procedural History:

The jury found in favor of defendant.

Issue:

Whether an unwanted touch in a fire drill constituted a battery.

Rules:

  • Consent is assumed for ordinary contacts which are customary and reasonably necessary to the common intercourse of life.

  • Judged whether it is offensive to an ordinary person, not to one unduly sensitive as to personal dignity.

Reasoning:

A stairwell during a fire drill is a crowded place. People standing in the middle of such a place must expect a certain amount of personal contact.

Holding:

No, it is reasonable to think that one might be touched in a fire drill. Affirmed.

Note:

Time, place, circumstances, and people are considered.

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