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X is driving through the parking lot at a busy shopping mall, looking for a parking space. Y is doing the same. Both X and Y approach an empty space at the same time from opposite directions, and both drivers simultaneously attempt to pull into the space. X pulls forward into the parking space just ahead of Y, effectively snagging the spot from Y, and then steps out of his car. Y believes X has been rude, so Y stops his own car and gets out to confront X. An argument ensues, and after a heated dialogue, Y steps toward X and swings his fist at X’s head.
X and Y are approximately the same height and weight. However, X is a fit young man in his twenties and an accomplished amateur boxer, but Y is an overweight, middle-aged man. Because of X’s youth, physical condition, and boxing experience, X is not afraid of Y at any point in their interaction.
X easily dodges Y’s punch, and then counterpunches, striking Y’s solar plexus. Y immediately drops to his knees and doubles over in pain. X then turns and walks away from Y, toward the mall entrance.
Meanwhile, a mall security guard, Z, is patrolling the parking lot in a small truck. Z arrives just in time to see X punch Y and then turn to leave; Z sees none of the events leading up to X’s punch. Z immediately exits the truck and shouts to X, “Hey, you!” When X turns to look at Z, from a distance of approximately 12 feet, Z draws a can of pepper spray and sprays it in X’s face.
Pepper spray is a pressurized aerosol spray containing a powerful chemical agent; the agent causes temporary but extreme pain when it contacts a person’s eyes, nose, and mouth. The spray has its intended effect on X, who falls to the ground, unable to see and virtually incapacitated from pain. The spray’s effects last for approximately 30 minutes.
As soon as X hits the ground, Z drags X over by Z’s truck, and then calls the police, who arrive five minutes later. Z stands over X until the police arrive. During this interval, X is thrashing about on the ground, rubbing his eyes and crying, “Leave me alone! Leave me alone!”
The relevant jurisdiction’s tort law includes the following statute:
Defense of Another: An actor is privileged to use force to defend another only when the person whom the actor defends is privileged to use defensive force in the present circumstances.
Did Y’s conduct toward X constitute tortious assault? Explain.
Did Z’s conduct toward X constitute false imprisonment? Explain.