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Torts
John Marshall Law School, Chicago
Bernabe, Alberto

Bernabe

Torts

Spring 2014

INTRODUCTION TO TORTS

· No remedy à no tort

· “Right to seek” (the possibility of compensation for the value of the injury)

TORTS

INTENTIONAL

NEGLIGENCE

STRICT LIABILITY

SPECIFIC INTENT

GENERAL INTENT

NO

INTENT

FAULT

NO FAULT

THEORIES OF LIABILITY

· Brown v. Kendall, pgs. 12-16

o Established unintentional torts

o Switched burden of proof to plaintiff

· Spano v. Perini, pgs. 17-20

o Activities that are inherently dangerous carry strict liability.

o No fault liability.

LIABILITY FOR INTENTIONAL CONDUCT

THE CONCEPT OF INTENT

· Prima Facie / Core Elements:

o Intent

§ Specific, or

· Desired to cause consequences of the act

§ General

· Acted with knowledge to a substantial certainty (Garratt v. Dailey, pgs. 23)

o Act (voluntary)

o Causation

o Injury

§ Battery is harmful or offensive contact

§ Assault is apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact

§ False Imprisonment is confinement to defined area without legal justification

§ False Arrest is false imprisonment under color of authority

§ Trespass to Land is entry into real property

§ Trespass to Chattel is intermeddling or dispossession of personal property

§ Conversion is major interference or destruction of personal property

§ IIED is severe emotional distress (limited to what a reasonable person would suffer)

CAUSES OF ACTION FOR INTENTIONAL CONDUCT

· Battery

o Definition: Harmful or offensive contact without consent

§ Harmful: Any physical impairment of the condition of another’s body, or physical pain, or illness

§ Offensive: Bodily contact offending a reasonable sense of personal dignity

o Battery action requires that plaintiff’s body be contacted, but not necessary by the defendant (Fisher v. Carrousel Motor Hotel, Inc., pgs. 51-53)

o Plaintiff’s consciousness of contact (i.e. assault) is not required

· Assault

o Definition: Imminent apprehension of a battery

o Words alone can cause apprehension of battery, but the law will not allow a plaintiff to recover based on words alone; there must be something more (Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Hill, pgs. 56-58)

o Depends of the defendant’s apparent ability to carry out a battery, not his actual ability

o Consciousness of assault is required

o Participation in a sporting event may be implied consent, except for conduct disallowed by rules

§ Not enough time to apprehend imminent battery (Koffman v. Garnett, pgs. 130-131)

· Intentional infliction of emotional distress

o Elements:

§ Conduct of an Extreme and outrageous nature

§ Calculated to Cause

§ Intended

· General

· Specific

· Reckless

§ Severe emotional distress

o To meet burden of intent, actions must be either general, specific, or reckless (defendant must have been aware of risk or indifferent to it)

o Transferred intent doctrine DOES NOT apply

o Plaintiff must show actual injury (State Rubbish Collectors Ass’n v. Siliznoff, pgs. 108-112)

o Defendant has to be aware of plaintiff in order to be liable for IIED (Taylor v. Vallelunga, pgs. 125-126)

· False imprisonment

o Definition: Direct restraint of one person of the physical liberty of another without adequate legal justification (Big Town Nursing Home, Inc. v. Newman, pgs. 60-62)

o False imprisonment elements

§ Defendant acts to confine another within fixed boundaries

§ Defendant’s act directly or indirectly results in such a confinement of the plaintiff

§ The plaintiff is conscious of the confinement or is harmed by it (must be aware of confinement)

o Can’t claim false imprisonment if plaintiff never asks to leave or plaintiff has a reasonable means of escape (Hardy v. LaBelle’s Distributing Co., pgs. 69-70)

o Legal justification

§ Reasonable under circumstances

§ To prevent plaintiff from inflicting personal or property injury

§ Done for lawful purposes

§ Parvi v. City of Kingston, pgs. 64-68

· False Arrest

o False arrest is FI by an agent acting under color of authority (Enright v. Groves, pgs. 72-74)

· Trespass to chattels

o Liable if defendant causes either

§ Dispossession of the chattel for a substantial time

§ Actual impairment of condition, value, or quality of chattel

§ Deprivation of chattel’s use

o No nominal damages; damages based of diminution of value

o A t

as the defendant reasonably believes that doing so is necessary to avert an imminent public disaster (Surocco v. Geary, pgs. 166-169)

· Private necessity

o Allows defendant to commit intentional tort, but defendant remains liable for any actual damages he causes in doing so (Vincent v. Lake Erie Transp. Co., pgs. 169-172)

LIABILITY FOR NEGLIGENT CONDUCT

THE CONCEPT OF NEGLIGENCE

· Courts must balance the public good and benefits of a particular dangerous action with the danger inherent in performing that action.

· Weigh social utility, cost of securing, and the level of risk created by not securing. (Chicago B.&Q.R. Co. v. Krayenbul, pgs. 181-183)

ELEMENTS OF THE CAUSE OF ACTION FOR NEGLIGENT CONDUCT

· Theory:

o Negligent conduct creates an unreasonable risk of harm.

o A reasonable person’s conduct does not create a risk of harm.

· Elements:

o D had a duty to exercise reasonable and due care (not engage in risk that creates an unreasonable risk of harm),

o That person breached the duty and standard of care,

o Cause in fact,

o Cause in law (proximate cause)

o Injury

· Duty

o Act as a reasonable prudent person under similar circumstances

o The reasonable prudent person does not create unreasonable risk of harm to others

o How to express a duty

§ Rules

· If plaintiff’s negligence contributed to injury, plaintiff is barred from recovery (Baltimore & O.R. v. Goodman, pgs. 265-266)

· The actions of a plaintiff depend on the situation and the circumstances, and it is up to the jury to decide whether a particular course of action was reasonable. Rule of law cannot cover every situation. Judicial statements can establish a standard of conduct (Pokora v. Wabash Ry. Co., pgs. 267-270)

§ Common Knowledge

· “When the standard is clear, the Courts should lay it down once and for all.” (Baltimore & O.R. v. Goodman, pgs. 265-266)