Under Idaho law, the intent required for the commission of a battery is the intent to cause an unpermitted contact, not that the contact be harmful or offensive.
Appellant wife was hurt when the appellee professor touched her from behind without warning. The plaintiff wife and husband sued appellee, university and professor for damages for personal injury the wife claimed to have suffered as a result thereof. The parties stipulated that while the professor intended to touch the wife, he did not intend to harm or offend her. The university sought partial summary judgment, claiming in both the trial and appeals courts that the contact constituted battery and that the university was immune from liability under the Idaho Tort Claims Act, specifically Idaho Code § 6-904(3). The Court of Appeals of the State of Idaho affirmed a judgment that the professor's act constituted battery, an intentional tort for which the university was immune under the Idaho Tort Claims Act. On appeal, the court affirmed.
Is a state university immune in a personal injury action against it and a professor based on contact between the professor and a plaintiff that she alleged was a battery; and does unpermitted contact amount to a battery even if the contact did not rise to the level of harmful or offensive?
The court affirmed the rulings of the lower courts affording immunity to the university under the Idaho Tort Claims Act and dismissing the claims of the wife and husband for damages resulting from physical contact between the wife and the professor. The Court of Appeals concluded that Professor Neher did in fact commit a battery, reasoning that under Idaho law the intent required for the commission of a battery is simply the intent to cause an unpermitted contact not an intent that the contact be harmful or offensive. The Supreme Court agrees with the Court of Appeals and affirm the decision of the district court.