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Exercise 15

This exercise is about defenses to a tort.

Frank hits Allen and is poised to hit him again with his fist. Allen pulls out his handgun and shoots Frank twice through the chest. Frank remarkably survives and sues Allen for damages.

Can he recover this time?

A. No, because Allen acted in self-defense.
Sorry, but that's not the correct answer. Please select another.
B. Yes, because Allen’s self-defense was disproportionate to Frank’s attack.
B is probably correct. While Allen was entitled to defend himself against Frank’s attack, it is almost certain here that Allen’s response was disproportionate to the threat posed by his attacker. Even if a gunshot was justified under the circumstances (and it probably was not), a single shot to a less vital area probably would have been sufficient for reasonable self-defense. Still, all the facts should be considered: if Allen was a hemophiliac who could bleed to death from even a simple cut, he might be justified in taking extreme action in self-defense. The good news is that a case like this will almost certainly exceed magistrate court jurisdiction; this example is intended to illustrate that the defense of self-defense has its limits.