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Where one person, by a show of violence and force, puts another in fear and forces him to leave a place where he has a right to be, or to commit some act which he otherwise would not perform, he is guilty of an assault.
Plaintiff wrote a letter to an individual indicating that defendant had been making statements defamatory to plaintiff and insisting that the individual had been his authority. The individual denied that he was the authority. Later that month, plaintiff was in a hotel dining-room eating his dinner. Defendant wrote out an apology and retraction and went into the dining-room with his cane and compelled plaintiff, by threats to do him bodily harm, to sign the paper against his will. Plaintiff sued defendant for assault, and plaintiff prevailed at trial.
Did the act by the defendant of compelling plaintiff, by threats to do the latter bodily harm, to sign the paper against the plaintiff’s will constitute assault?
The court found that the exceptions to the evidence were without merit. The court did not have to consider the exceptions to the charges because by defendant's own testimony, the trial court could have instructed the jury that defendant was guilty of an assault. Also, the motion for nonsuit was properly overruled. The contention that the facts did not constitute an assault could not be maintained. As to the question of damages, plaintiff was entitled to compensatory damages for humiliation and mental suffering. There was also abundant evidence of malice upon which the jury was warranted in inflicting punitive damages.