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III. False Imprisonment: Taking Care of Others

Assault and battery are broad torts. They could be used to cover a variety of situations that go beyond the classic configurations, such as ones where force or threat of force as deployed not only for their own sake but as means to some other end — such as threatening someone during a robbery, or to coerce them to stay somewhere they don’t want to be. For the latter case and others adjacent to it, legal doctrine contains a more specific tort to describe the wrongness of these situations: false imprisonment.

As you take in the cases in this section, it might be helpful to reflect on what, if anything, “false imprisonment” accomplishes as a category that assault and battery do not. Are there times that false imprisonments could happen and should be actionable that aren’t also assault or battery? What plausible situations could arise that would test a colloquial notion of what counts as false imprisonment, and how can we best sort those out? And perhaps most intriguingly, are there “good” imprisonments that can come up in everyday life, distinct from the standard defenses to assault and battery, that should be excused from tort’s reach?