complicated, what valuable lessons should you learn from your experience onceyour case has beenadjudicated(resolved in court)? You probably won’t be surprisedto learn that your roommate is liable for negligence in kicking over the paintbucket, but you may be dismayed to learn that you are, too. When it comes to theclaim of assault and battery, your roommate is also liable for that, but you may beprotected from liability. As for the damages that you’ll probably have to pay inorder to settle the homeowner’s negligence suit, you’ll be pleased to learn that youcan indeed write them off as “ordinary” business expenses (unless they’re paid byyour insurance company).As we work our way through this chapter, we’ll look a little more closely at thetypes of law involved in your case, but we’ll start by observing that, in at least onerespect, your roommate’s predicament can be more instructive than yours. That’sbecause assault and battery violates statutes established by two different types oflaw—criminalandcivil.Criminal LawIt’s acrimeto make unauthorized and harmful physical contact with another person(battery). In fact, it’s a crime even tothreatensuch contact (assault).Criminal law9prohibits and punishes wrongful conduct, such as assault and battery, murder,robbery, extortion, and fraud. In criminal cases, theplaintiff10—the party filing thecomplaint—is usually a government body acting as a representative of society. Thedefendant11—the party charged in the complaint—may be an individual (such asyour roommate) or an organization (such as a business). Criminal punishmentincludes fines, imprisonment, or both.Civil LawAssault and battery may also be a matter ofcivil law12—law governing disputesbetween private parties (again, individuals or organizations). In civil cases, theplaintiffsues thedefendantto obtain compensation for some wrong that thedefendant has allegedly done the plaintiff. Thus your roommate may be sued formonetary damages by the homeowner’s neighbor, with whom he madeunauthorized and harmful physical contact.9. Body of law that prohibits andpunishes wrongful conduct.10. Party filing a legal complaint;in criminal law, usually agovernment body acting as arepresentative of society; incivil law, party suing to obtaincompensation for wrongallegedly done by thedefendant.11. Party charged in a legalcomplaint; in criminal law,party against whom a criminalcharge is brought; in civil law,party being sued forcompensation for wrongallegedly done to plaintiff.12. Body of law governing disputesbetween private parties.Chapter 16 The Legal and Regulatory Environment of Business16.2 Criminal versus Civil Law874
Tort LawComplaints of assault and battery fall under a specific type of civil law calledtortlaw. Atort13is a civil wrong—an injury done to someone’s person or property. Thepunishment in tort cases is the monetary compensation that the court orders thedefendant to pay the plaintiff.