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John Marshall Law School, Chicago
Bernabe, Alberto

Tort Law – Course Outline

I. Introduction to tort law
A. Goals of tort law
1. providing adequate compensation and deterring wrongdoers
2. morality/corrective justice: hold DFs liable for harms they’ve caused to others
3. protect the rights of the PL
a) right to protect one’s person
b) right to protect one’s property
c) right to protect one’s emotional well-being
d) right to protect advantageous business relationships
B. Theories of liability
1. fault-based liability: burden on PL to prove either intent or negligence of DF
a) requires proof that DF breached the duty of care
2. strict liability: tort law imposes liability without fault
a) DF has duty to avoid injury to PL entirely or pay for any resulting injuries
b) DF liable regardless of the care with which activity conducted
C. Damages
1. compensatory damages paid for:
a) lost wages or lost earning capacity
b) medical expenses
c) pain and suffering (including emotional harm)
2. punitive damages
a) authorized when tortfeasor acted maliciously, willfully or wantonly in causing injury
b) add a measure of deterrence and some punishment for wrongdoer’s misconduct
D. Vicarious liability
1. respondeat superior: liability a supervisory party bears for the actionable conduct of a subordinate based on the relationship between the two parties
a) employers are liable for torts of an employee if the employee is acting in the scope of employment at the time the tort is committed
b) employers are liable for torts of an independent contractor UNLESS:
(1) contractor was hired to do something illegal
(2) contractor commits its non-delegable duty
(3) contractor was hired to engage in an inherently dangerous activity
c) joint enterprise
d) employer’s vicarious liability does not exclude liability of the employee
e) commuting to and from work is beyond the scope of employment except where employee is being paid for travel or travel involves special hazards
f) frolic is outside the scope of employment while detour is within scope
g) employer is not ordinarily liable for an employee’s assault upon others unless employment relationship is likely to generate emotions that would lead to a tortious act (police officer)
àbasis of liability is not D’s conduct, but someone else’s conduct

II. Liability for damages caused by intentional conduct

Concept of intent

1. intent: voluntary conduct with the desire to cause [harm] OR
voluntary conduct with knowledge to a substantial certainty that [harm] could result
àwith desire to OR with belief with substantial certainty
2. intentional torts generally do not require that DF intended to harm PL, only that conduct was voluntary
3. transferred intent: intent that has been shifted from the originally intended wrongful act to the wrongful act actually committed
a) applies whenever both the tort intended and the resulting harm fall within the scope of the old action of trespass
(1) battery
(2) assault
(3) false imprisonment
(4) trespass to land
(5) trespass to chattels
àwhen D intends any one of the five, and accidentally accomplishes any one of the five, the doctrine applies and D is liable
B. Examples of causes of action based on intentional conduct
1. Battery:
a) battery: intentional infliction of unwanted/unconsented harmful or offensive contact
(1) touching must involve contact with PL’s person or something closely associated with PL
(2) doesn’t matter if DF is trying to help PL so long as harmful/offensive contact is intentionally inflicted
(4) touching is harmful if it injures, disfigures or impairs the body
(5) touching is offensive if it would offend a reasonable person’s sense of dignity
(a) a hypersensitive reaction is not sufficient
(5) unconscious (seizures) and instinctive (blinking

c) elements of false imprisonment
(1) intent
(a) measured by the desire or belief with substantial certainty test
(2) confinement
(a) PL must be restricted to limited area without knowledge of reasonable means of escape
(b) physical force exercised against PL or PL’s family
(c) threats of immediate harm to PL, PL’s property or PL’s family
(d) actual or apparent physical barriers (including refusal to release)
(e) assertion of legal authority
(3) awareness
(a) cannot be proven absent recollection of the act
(3) unjust
(a) only applies absent privilege(s)
(4) damage
(a) actual damages not required; PL may recover for injuries suffered in a reasonable attempt to escape
5. False arrest
a) expression of a particular type of false imprisonment in which DF has no authority to arrest
b) interest protected is right to assume state has property authority when effectuating arrests
c) arrest à charge à conviction (all must match for complete defense)
6. Causes of action based on interference with property rights
a) Trespass to chattels
(1) trespass to chattels: intentional interference with the right of possession of personal property
(2) protects right to possess
(a) PL is property possessor; could be owner and/or anyone to whom owner gave consent to possess (could be more than one person protected)
(3) elements of trespass to chattels
(a) intent
1) DF must have intended to deal with the chattel in the manner in which he did so
(b) invasion
1) dispossession or intermeddling