Law of Tort Self Defense

Assignment 3.4: Self-Defense as a Valid Defense


In your work as a paralegal, you may find that a tort was clearly committed, but the defendant attempted to protect himself or herself from immediate physical harm. When such a situation arises, it is important for you to complete a self-defense analysis. For this assignment, you will review scenarios and determine whether the defendant in each case can successfully use the privilege of self-defense.


Scenario 1

Richard raises his cane over his head and shouts at Gary, saying, "If my daughter wasn't here with me, I'd smash you in the head." Gary is afraid. He grabs Richard's cane and knocks him down. Richard then sues Gary for battery.

Scenario 2

Jane asks Clayton to leave Jane's store because she does not like the style of Clayton's hair. Clayton refuses to leave. Jane comes at Clayton with a broom. Jane is more than 25 feet away and walks with a cane. As Jane approaches, Clayton shoots her. Jane sues Clayton for battery.

Scenario 3

Lou is in Robin's home. Lou starts yelling obscenities at Robin in front of Robin's family. Lou spits in Robin's face and throws Robin's coat out the window. Just as Lou is about to spit in Robin's face again, Robin stabs Lou. Lou sues Robin for battery.



  1. Review the required readings.
  2. Review the scenarios.
  3. In a new Microsoft Word document, list each scenario and identify whether or not self-defense is a valid defense to a tort. In your response:

         •   Identify each threat of violence.

         •   Identify the acts that caused injury.

         •   Identify the tort(s) involved.

         •   Describe the elements of the privilege of self-defense.

         •   For each scenario, analyze whether the defendant has a valid self-defense claim and describe your analysis and conclusion.

         •   Describe the effect of mistake on the privilege.

         •   Describe the facts that destroy the privilege.

         •   For each scenario, list the information you would seek to gather if you could interview the plaintiff or defendant, or otherwise investigate the matter.

  4. Your document must be one to two pages long, double-spaced, set in 12-point type, and framed with one-inch margins.

         •   Include your name at the top of the first page.

         •   Proofread to eliminate mechanical and grammatical errors.

  5. Save and submit your file using the Browse function below.

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