Copyright 1965, American Law Institute
§ 261 PRIVILEGE OF SELF-DEFENSE OR DEFENSE OF THIRD PERSON
One is privileged to commit an act which would otherwise be a
trespass to or a conversion of a chattel in the possession of another,
for the purpose of defending himself or a third person against the other,
under the same conditions which would afford a privilege to inflict a harmful
or offensive contact upon the other for the same purpose.
COMMENTS & ILLUSTRATIONS: Comment:
a. The conditions under which a harmful or offensive contact with the person of another will be privileged are stated in §§ 63 and 76.
b. Defense against attack. For the purpose of defending his own person, an actor is privileged to make intentional invasions of another's interests of personality when the actor reasonably believes that such other person intends to cause a confinement or a harmful or offensive contact to the actor, or that such invasion of his interests is reasonably probable, and the actor reasonably believes that the apprehended harm can be safely prevented only by the infliction of such harm upon the other. (See § 63.) A similar privilege is afforded an actor for the protection of certain third persons. (See § 76.) The rule stated in this Section provides for a like privilege under similar circumstances to cause contacts with or other interferences with a chattel in the possession of the one whose conduct threatens the actor's safety. Thus, a person threatened with bodily harm may protect himself when reasonably necessary, although in so doing he causes harm to or even the destruction of a chattel in the possession of the one whose conduct threatens his safety. This is true not only when the other's conduct is intended to harm the actor, but when the actor reasonably believes that the other intends to inflict bodily harm. The privilege also exists when, although the actor knows that the person in possession of the chattel does not intend to inflict harm upon the actor, he reasonably believes that such harm is likely to result from the possessor's negligent conduct. (See § 63.)
1. A, while visiting in B's house, is assaulted by B, who seizes a valuable vase to hurl at him. To protect himself, A picks up B's umbrella, and with it knocks the vase out of B's hands and breaks it and the umbrella. A is not liable to B for the value of either the umbrella or the vase.
c. The rule stated in this Section is not applicable to
afford a privilege to interfere with a chattel in the possession of another
to protect the actor or a third person from harm not threatened by the
possessor's conduct. As to the rule applicable in such cases, see §
REPORTERS NOTES: This Section is changed from the first Restatement by broadening it to include acts of trespass or conversion other than intermeddling. As reworded, the Section now includes the matter formerly covered by § 268, which is omitted.
See Reynolds v. Phillips, 13 Ill. App. 557 (1883); and compare Brown v. Carpenter, 26 Vt. 638, 62 Am. Dec. 603 (1854).