COURSE OUTLINE: TORTS
Relationship between the Procedural and Substantive Issues
A. For our purposes, the procedural issue of a case involves the motion(s) filed by the parties and the court’s
ruling(s) on these motions.
B. The procedural issue of a case determines where the court, either in the first instance or on appeal, gets the facts
it assumes as true in deciding the cause of action.
C. The substantive issue of a case asks: What is the outcome of this case given the facts the court assumes as true?
D. Therefore, the substantive “holding” of a case is the rule of law necessary for the court to resolve the dispute
based on the facts the court assumes as true.
Where the Court Gets the Facts It Assumes as True
A, Demurrer: the court assumes as true all facts alleged in the plaintiff s complaint, and if they do not establish
the cause of action or legal right the plaintiff is claiming in his or her case, the demurrer will be granted.
B. Motion for Directed Verdict / Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict (n. o. v.): the court looks at
the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party-and-‘assumes as true those facts that a reasonable
trier of fact could determine to be true looking at all the evidence in that light; this is known as the Sufficiency of the
Evidence Standard; the directed verdict procedure is necessary fBi order to maintain judicial control over the law
applied to the case (if no reasonable trier of fact could find for the nom-noving party looking at all the evidence in the
light most favorable to it, then a trier of fact that did find for the nonmoving party Would be ignoring the law given
by the judge)
PURPOSES OF TORT LIABILITY
1. PURPOSES/Goals of Tort Liability: Henderson (1, 2, and 3); Fleming (4, 5, and 6); Holmes (6); Kelley (7)
A. Punishment: seems appropriate in cases in which one person deliberately and without justification inflicts physical harm on another; arguably is a peaceful means for adjusting the rights of parties, or an act of revenge, that prevents taking the law into one’s own hands.
B. Deterrence: in this way, the sanction of tort liability is imposed not as an end in, itself, but as a means to accomplish the end of discouraging wrongftil conduct and encouraging socially responsible conduct.
C. CoLnpensation: this restores injured parties to their original condition, or, to make them financially whole; the focus here is on victim and not on the wrongdoer. Problem: This purpose begs several questions: Why help just victims of someone’s wrongful act and not all victims? Why limit concern only to victims of accident? Or why use tort law and not welfare law to assist people in financial trouble?
D. Loss Spr~he defendant is a conduit through which the whole community bears the burden of injuries; a
out Over-Deterrence : a certain average of conduct is necessary for general welfare; the purpose of torts is not to meet some moral standard (or to improve the hearts of men) but to assure the reasonable freedom of others with the protection of the individual from injury; standard of negligence does not deter any conduct other than that perceived as dangerous by the community.
H. Redress Private Wrongs: want to redress private wrongs to prevent social rapture (personal component of injury); want to coordinate activities according to established patterns of behavior (social component of injury) which supports the common good; using the courts (a community mechanism) to redressing wrongs (1) gives the injured individual a sense of worth as a respected member (personal component) of the community by showing community’s commitment to justice and (2) promotes the common good by reaffirming social conventions (social component), or a vision of the community in which people treat each other justly. A person is liable for injuries resulting from his failure to observe a social rule designed to coordinate conduct (i.e. driving on the wrong side of the road).