Elements for Proving a Cause of Action in Tort for Assault

CACI 1301. Assault – Essential Factual Elements:

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] assaulted [him/ her]. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

[1. That [name of defendant] acted, intending to cause harmful [or offensive] contact;

2. That [name of plaintiff] reasonably believed that [he/she] was about to be touched in a harmful [or an offensive] manner;]


[1. That [name of defendant] threatened to touch [name of plaintiff] in a harmful [or an offensive] manner;

2. That it reasonably appeared to [name of plaintiff] that [name of defendant] was about to carry out the threat;]

3. That [name of plaintiff] did not consent to [name of defendant]’s conduct;

4. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and 5. That [name of defendant]’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]’s harm.

[A touching is offensive if it offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity.]

[Words alone do not amount to an assault.]

” ‘Generally speaking, an assault is a demonstration of an unlawful intent by one person to inflict immediate injury on the person of another then present.’ A civil action for assault is based upon an nvasion of the right of a person to live without being put in fear of personal harm.” (Lowry v. Standard Oil Co. of California (1944) 63 Cal.App.2d 1, 6-7 [146 P.2d 57], internal citation omitted.)

“The tort of assault is complete when the anticipation of harm occurs.” (Kiseskey v. Carpenters’ Trust for Southern California (1983) 144 Cal.App.3d 222, 232 [192 Cal.Rptr 492].)

Restatement Second of Torts, section 21 provides:

(1) An actor is subject to liability to another for assault if

(a) he acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with the person of the other or a third person, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact, and

(b) the other is thereby put in such imminent apprehension.

(2) An action which is not done with the intention stated in Subsection (1, a) does not make the actor liable to the other for an apprehension caused thereby although the act involves an unreasonable risk of causing it and, therefore, would be negligent or reckless if the risk threatened bodily harm.