Under Massachusetts law, battery is the intentional and unjustified use of force on the person of another, however slight, or the intentional doing of a wanton or grossly negligent act causing personal injury to another. To establish a case of battery, you must show:

  • A voluntary act;
  • A harmful or offensive touching;
  • Intent; and
  • Lack of consent.

Some common defenses to a claim of battery are:

  • Mistake;
  • Accident;
  • Defense of another;
  • Self-defense;
  • Defense of property; and/or
  • Capacity.

In an action for battery, evidence of provocation, though not a defense per se, is admissible in the mitigation of damages. Insulting or abusive language or insolent conduct by the injured party at the time of the attack may constitute provocation. Where the words or conduct of the injured party incite the defendant and provoke the attack, the injured party bears some responsibility for the events that follow. The injured party’s behavior does not justify the defendant’s use of force but will serve to mitigate his or her damages.

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