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Torts
Temple University School of Law
Rahdert, Mark C.

TORT LAW

I. Tort law: duty to another imposed involuntarily by law
II. Tort law involves any civil action other than a contract
III. Tort = civil wrong that causes harm to another
IV. Main purposes:
A. Civil justice
1. Compensation for loss (monetary damages)
2. Putting people back to where they were before harm
B. Deterrence
C. Peaceful dispute resolution
V. Tort law based on common law system
VI. Tort law is mostly state law, not federal
VII. Two forms of action in tort law:
A. Trespass à Strict liability
B. Trespass on the Case à Negligence
VIII. 3 standards of care/liability
1. Intentional
a. P must show D acted intentionally
2. Negligence
a. P must prove that D failed to exercise due care
b. Examples:
i. Brown v. Kendall
A. Guy beating dog and accidentally hit P
B. Establishes that P has burden if he wants to recover damages
C. Establishes tort negligence- D had duty to exercise ordinary care
ii. Hammontree v. Jenner
A. Guy had epileptic seizure and crashed into building
B. Upholds use of negligence (D not negligent- out of his control) rather than strict liability for car accidents
3. Strict Liability
a. P need only prove that D caused harm
b. Doesn’t matter if D exercised due care- liability without fault
B. Abnormally dangerous activity requires strict liability
1. 6 factors to determine abnormally dangerous activity:
a. High risk of harm
b. Grave degree of harm
c. Not common usage
d. Whether reasonable care would eliminate/reduce harm
e. Appropriateness for activity to be carried on in specific place
f. Social value of activity to community
** Answering yes to first 3 pushes towards SL, yes to last 3 pushes to N
2. Example: Langan v. Valicopters
a. Organic farmers sue crop duster for contaminating their crops
b. Court performs a risk-utility analysis (risk of harm v. utility of activity)

INTENTIONAL TORTS

I. Basics
A. Thin Skull Rule
1. Take P as you find him (applies to all torts)
2. D liable for all harm resulting from contact even if farfetched and not foreseeable
3. Example: Vosburg v. Putney
a. While in school, one child intentionally kicks another and disease in kicked leg worsens
b. Court held P liable for all consequences of harm because of thin skull rule
c. Court held that context of act is important in determining its legality- kick unlawful because in classroom, but would not be on playground
B. Due care is irrelevant once intent is proven- then works like strict liability
C. Generally P doesn’t need to prove actual injury to recover
D. Damages are usually compensatory, but sometimes punitive are awarded
E. Doctrine of respondeat superior inapplicable- intentional torts are not within the scope of employment (but Negligent Torts are)
F. Each element of intentional tort must be precisely proven for P to recover
G. If facts are disputed, Court will generally use D’s version
H. Intent may be transferred in intentional torts- If A trying to hit B, but hit C; C may sue
II. Battery= intentional infliction of a harmful bodily contact upon another that is unconsented and unprivileged, must cause the offensive contact
A. Elements of Battery
1. Intent (socially condemned)
2. Unconsented (defense)
3. Unprivileged (defense)
B. Purpose of tort:
1. protection of bodily integrity
2. deterrent to injurious behavior
C. Intent (subjective) requires:
1. Act done with deliberate purpose of causing harm (objective) (contact or apprehension); OR
2. Act done with knowledge with substantial certainty (subjective) that contact or apprehension would be produced
a. Example: Garratt v. Dailey
i. 5-year-old pulls chair out from old woman
ii. Court held that battery does not require deliberate purpose to harm- just substantial certainty that actions will cause contact
D. Tort does NOT require:
1. Intent to harm
2. Physical injury (can be reputation)
3. Contact with body- can be something in hand, cane, clothes
a. Example: Fisher v. Carrousel
i. Black NASA employee at work conference and manager of restaurant ripped plate out of his hands
ii. Court held that contact need not be with body, but as long as the article is an extension of the person
E. “Crowded World” Exception
1. Certain contact is inevitable in a crowded world
a. Even though it’s not consented to, consent is implied and the contact does not invade a person’s legally protected interests
i. Contact must be reasonable and not offensive
2. Example: Wallace v. Rosen
a. High school teacher moves P during fire drill because P was blocking exits
b. Court found that D’s tapping of P on shoulder was reasonable and NOT offensive in a crowded world so not battery
F. Medical Experimentation= must have informed consent or it will be battery
1. Example: Mink v. University of Chicago
a. Hospital intentionally gave women DES without women’s knowledge and consent
b. Court said no privilege and original consent to get care not enough- consent must be informed
G. Defenses
1. Privilege (parent, medical)
2. Implied Consent (emergency, sports, teacher)
3. Self defense (can protect yourself)
4. Property defense (can protect your property)
a. Force limitations: can use greater force in self defense than property defense
III. Assault- intentional act causing reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful cont

usly existed as parasitic tort now it’s its own
G. Concerns with this tort:
1. Too many lawsuits
2. Fear of fraudulent claims (hard to prove or disprove)
3. Damage hard to determine
VI. Conversion
A. Elements:
1. Intentional exercise
2. Of dominion or control
3. Over a chattel (personal property)
4. That seriously interferes
a. Denies P’s use/access to property; OR
b. Alters property; OR
c. Destroys value of property
5. With rights of another to control
B. Tort law is deeply committed to property rights
C. Example: Dickens v. Debolt (Rahdert’s favorite tort case)
1. P/O confiscated fisherman’s sturgeon because thought it was caught illegally. P/O then took the fish home and ate it- though he should have given it back because not obtained illegally.
2. Govt employees may be allowed immunity from tort claims for actions within their scope of duty
3. Court held that P/O went beyond his scope of duty in eating the fish
4. Court said 4 factors in determining whether conversion occurred:
a. Extent and duration of control
b. Presence/absence of good faith
c. Disregard of interference
d. Harm or inconvenience to P
5. Value of chattel usually measure of damages- may include sentimental value
D. Includes intangible property if: trade secret, scientific info, invention

PRIVILEGES AS DEFENSES TO INTENTIONAL TORTS: D must prove privilege

I. Consent of Battery: If P consented to act, almost any tort will be dismissed; D concedes that he did the act, but that P consented to his actions- affirmative defense
A. Medical
1. Doctors don’t always need to have consent:
a. Emergency situations: immediate need to perform operation on a life-threatening ailment and no time for consent so it is implied
b. Substituted consent: Dr. can turn to family member or other designated person should doctor need consent and patient unable to give it
c. Initial consent: Patient consulted doctor originally and may have given broad consent
d. Medical privilege: Dr has reasonable latitude to chose method of treatment once treatment is consented to
2. Lack of Consent