Defenses to Intentional Torts

A Video Explaining Various Defenses to Intentional Torts

See the full video at and at

Self-Defense and Defense of a Third Party

The California Civil Code states:

Any necessary force may be used to protect from wrongful injury the person or property of oneself, or of a wife, husband, child, parent, or other relative, or member of one’s family, or of a ward, servant, master or guest. (California Civil Code § 50)

The person must reasonably believe that danger exists, and must use only such force as is reasonably necessary.

Defenses to Battery—Use of Deadly Force

Deadly force or force likely to cause bodily harm is not justified merely in defense of property. Spring guns or other deadly mechanical devices are to be used only if deadly force is justifiable. Deadly force may be used against a felonious trespasser.

Use of Reasonable Force

This is always a defense. For example:

  • holding a violent person’s arms behind his back;
  • striking a dog about to attack a child;
  • holding a person who was intentionally striking a child; or
  • escorting a trespasser off the premises.

Defenses to Defamation, Including Libel and Slander

Defenses to False Imprisonment

Reasonable detention without arrest is a judicial privilege codified by California Penal Code § 490.5(f)(1). For example, a storekeeper who believes a theft has been committed may detain the suspected person for a reasonable time.

Defense of Champerty And Maintenance

Using venture capital to finance litigation has been tolerated in many states because defendants often have more funds available than injured plaintiffs. Recently, the Ohio Supreme Court, and a few others, have called into question whether such arrangements violate the traditional rule against champerty and maintenance.

© 2021 – Barry Zalma

Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He also serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 52 years in the insurance business. He is available at and

Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine/ACE Legend Award.

Over the last 53 years Barry Zalma has dedicated his life to insurance, insurance claims and the need to defeat insurance fraud. He has created the following library of books and other materials to make it possible for insurers and their claims staff to become insurance claims professionals.

Go to the podcast Zalma On Insurance at;  Follow Mr. Zalma on Twitter at; Go to Barry Zalma videos at at; Go to Barry Zalma on YouTube-; Go to the Insurance Claims Library – Read posts from Barry Zalma at; and the last two issues of ZIFL at  podcast now available at

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