Pilot Law

Brief court decisions on civil wrongs


False imprisonment (and slander) XV

Continued from last week

…the fact that he had only the day before conducted a communion service in the building may have given to the mind of the plaintiff an erroneous, though honest, view of the sanctity of the building and have caused indignation in his mind which accounted for his impulsive interference with the proceedings of the district officer…
…the defendant had no right forcibly to eject the plaintiff without first giving him the opportunity of withdrawing quietly when his presence was objected to, and still less had he the right to have a blow administered to the plaintiff unless this was necessary for the carrying out of a lawful ejectment. I do not think that the smack on the chops which the defendant admits he ordered was for the purposes, but it was meant as a punishment of the plaintiff for refusing to go quietly and because the defendant was vexed, as he admits he was, by the plaintiff’s remarks. I hold therefore that an assault and battery was committed… under the order and by the direction of the defendant and that the defendant must pay some damages…
I wish I could believe the plaintiff when he was that at the time he was ordered to remove his that he was on his way to compliment the district officer, as he knew the defendant to be. But the letter written before action with the approval and knowledge of the plaintiff, is inconsistent with this statement and from the evidence I am satisfied that the plaintiff was approaching the defendant in a heated manner…
I think that the attitude of the plaintiff can best be described as that of spoiling for a row. I think therefore that the provocative manner of the plaintiff, though not amounting to a legal defence for the defendant, yet must be taken to mitigate the damages; while the court will not countenance arbitrary behavior to the detriment of others, yet it does take into consideration the fact that what might be slight provocation to a person in his private capacity, and which he could then pass unnoticed, may be great if offered to him in an official capacity and such as he cannot, having regard to the dignity of his office pass without notice.

To be continued next week

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