Individuals claiming that alleged tortfeasors used wilful and unlawful force have the burden of proof for such.
Plaintiff individual instituted an action against defendant alleged tortfeasor for damages for assault and battery. The injured individual appealed the decision of the Superior Court entering a judgment in favor of the alleged tortfeasor.
Did the injured individual fail to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the alleged tortfeasor used or attempted to use willful or unlawful force upon his person?
The trial court found that the individual precipitated the argument with the alleged tortfeasor, who ordered the individual to leave his premises, the individual advanced threateningly toward the alleged tortfeasor, and the alleged tortfeasor used reasonable force in defense of himself and in removing plaintiff from his premises. The trial court concluded that the injured individual failed to prove by a preponderance of evidence that the alleged tortfeasor used or attempted to use willful and unlawful force upon his person. The court held that as the trial court found that the alleged tortfeasor used reasonable force in defense of himself, it necessarily followed the force used was not willful or unlawful and that the injured individual failed to sustain the burden of proof. Therefore, the court held that because the conflicts in the evidence were resolved in the alleged tortfeasor's favor, and the evidence supported the findings, the court would not disturb the judgment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court's decision.