Targeted America will be providing civil codes for each state for the most common type of civil code torts that can be a cause of action in a complaint. These include stalking, defamation (slander and libel), assault and battery, and others. At this time, Targeted America has completed California, which has good civil code legislation to protect victims.
California Civil Codes
California Civil Code 1708.7. (a) A person is liable for the tort of stalking when the plaintiff proves all of the following elements of the tort:
(1) The defendant engaged in a pattern of conduct the intent of which was to follow, alarm, place under surveillance, or harass the plaintiff. In order to establish this element, the plaintiff shall be required to support his or her allegations with independent corroborating evidence.
(2) (B) The plaintiff suffered substantial emotional distress, and the pattern of conduct would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.
(3) (A) The defendant, as a part of the pattern of conduct specified in paragraph (1), made a credible threat with either (i) the intent to place the plaintiff in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of an immediate family member, or (ii) reckless disregard for the safety of the plaintiff or that of an immediate family member. In addition, the plaintiff must have, on at least one occasion, clearly and definitively demanded that the defendant cease and abate his or her pattern of conduct and the defendant persisted in his or her pattern of conduct unless exigent circumstances make the plaintiff's communication of the demand impractical or unsafe.
(b) 1 Pattern of conduct" means conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short
2 "Credible threat" means a threat implied by a pattern of conduct, including, but not limited
to, acts in which a defendant directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, harasses, monitors, surveils, threatens, or interferes with…so as to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety or the safety
3 "Electronic communication device" includes, but is not limited to,
4 "Follows" means to move in relative proximity to a person as that person moves from place to place
5 "Harass" means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes the person, and which serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the person.
6 "Place under surveillance" means remaining present…or other place occupied by the plaintiff.
7 "Substantial emotional distress" shall not be construed to have the same meaning as the "severe emotional distress" requirement for intentional infliction of emotional distress. "Substantial emotional distress" does not require a showing of physical manifestations of emotional distress; rather, it requires the evaluation of the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the defendant reasonably caused the plaintiff substantial fear, anxiety, or emotional torment.
(c) A person who commits the tort of stalking upon another is liable to that person for damages, including, but not limited to, general damages, special damages, and punitive damages pursuant to Section 3294.
(d) In an action pursuant to this section, the court may grant equitable relief, including, but not limited to, an injunction.
(e) The rights and remedies provided in this section are cumulative and in addition to any other rights and remedies provided by law.
Cal. Civil Code §44. Defamation is effected by either of the following:
California Civil Code Section 45
Libel, what. Libel is a false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation.
California Civil Code Section 46.
Slander is a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered, and also communications by radio or any mechanical or other means which:
1. Charges any person with crime, or with having been indicted, convicted, or punished for crime;
2. Imputes in him the present existence of an infectious, contagious, or loathsome disease;
3. Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in those respects which the office or other occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something with reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profits;
4. Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity; or
5. Which, by natural consequence, causes actual damage.
To prove either type of defamation, plaintiffs must prove the following four elements:
New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S. Ct. 710, 11 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1964). In Sullivan, the plaintiff, a police official, claimed that false allegations about him appeared in the New York Times, and sued the newspaper for libel. The Supreme Court balanced the plaintiff's interest in preserving his reputation against the public's interest in freedom of expression in the area of political debate. It held that a public official alleging libel must prove actual malice in order to recover damages.
(Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 94 S. Ct. 2997, 41 L. Ed. 2d 789 ).
A private citizen's reputation and privacy interests tend to outweigh free speech considerations and deserve greater protection from the courts.
Sexual Assault / Battery
California Civil Code Section 1708.5.
(a) A person commits a sexual battery who does any of the following:
(1) Acts with the intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact with an intimate part of another, and a sexually offensive contact with that person directly or indirectly results.
(b) A person who commits a sexual battery upon another is liable to that person for damages, including, but not limited to, general damages, special damages, and punitive damages.
(c) The court in an action pursuant to this section may award equitable relief, including, but not limited to, an injunction, costs, and any other relief the court deems proper.
(d) For the purposes of this section "intimate part" means the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, or the breast of a female.
(e) The rights and remedies provided in this section are in addition to any other rights and remedies provided by law.
(f) For purposes of this section "offensive contact" means contact that offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity.