Select Page

Torts
Temple University School of Law
Sacharoff, Laurent

Torts Outline

Class Notes: 08/25/09

Vosburg v. Putney- ∆ intention to do harm is the basis/essence of assault (more like battery in reality)
· “assault”- criminal intent to injure; physical strike
o Civil= “assault”- you do not hit the person
§ (1) miss (2) threaten
o (Don’t actually know what ∆ intention is)
· Results must be foreseeable
o Injuries only within contemplation
o Whatever the result
· Liability- fault must be divided
· Holding: If the act is unlawful then the intent is unlawful; if the intent is unlawful, you are LIABLE
o Why is the act unlawful?
§ Because the class is called to order, and thus the rules of the classroom apply
o ∆’s intention: to make contact with the other children, move a leg
***Ignorance of the law in NEVER an excuse or a DEFENSE***

Restatement of Torts re: Battery
1) Intent to harm/offensive contact, “substantially certain” to happen
2) Harmful contact occurs
(offensive can be as simple as disrupting decorum
Purpose=goal- highest level of intent
o Intent can legally mean knowledge of the consequences

Intention Tort- liable for all of the damages

Transferred Intent: doesn’t matter if you injure someone besides your target and hit a 3rd-party, you are liable

Doughtery v. Stepp (1835, N.C.) INTENTIONAL TORTS: TRESPASS OF LAND

Procedure: Trial court believed ∆’s actions did not constitute a trespass; Jury’s instructions found for ∆; π appealed

Relevant Facts: π claims ownership of an unfenced are of land; ∆ enters unenclosed land with a surveyor and claimed an area of his land as his property

Legal Issue: Did ∆’s actions qualify as a trespass, and therefore, was there an error in jury’s instructions?

π/Appellant: π claims that ∆ entered π’s unenclosed land and claimed ownership unlawfully
∆/Appellee: ∆’s actions did not constitute trespass (enclosure?)

Holding: Every unauthorized entry (unlawful) into the close of another is a trespass in which damages can be assessed.

Reasoning: the willful entry onto the property of another will always be a trespass. Claiming ignorance does not excuse the trespasser. Even if there is no damage to the other person’s property.

Outcome: Judgment reversed; new trial granted

INTENTIONAL & REAL DAMAGES IN TRESPASS TO REAL PROPERTY
o Court- stringent standards of liability (due to passive, immovable nature of property)

Class Notes 8/28/09
Intel Corp. v. Hamidi:

1. Π seeking enforcement/injunction to stop ∆’s mass emails
a. Complaints re: π’s employment practices
b. Result of emails- did not crash system
c. ∆ did not breach barriers
2. Intel sent ∆ a “cease and desist” re: stop using their equipment

Π (Intel’s) claims tort of trespass: loss of productivity= HARM claiming- working within existing law

Holding: (re: computes) Trespass of chattel does not extend to internet unless the functioning of the server is impaired.

Right: of owning property: keep people out
Conversion: deprive of property in serious way
(trespass- injure property)

Rule: There must be harm (i.e. damage) & interference for tort of trespass of chattel

For tort of trespass of chattel
1. Actual injury to chattel; OR
2. To π’s rights in it (i.e. deprive of use)

Dispossession is not enough, it has to be dispossession for a long time and you can’t use property
Possible Exception: If the rule says, you can use “reasonable force” and force is not possible, argue that this undermines rule

Extension to argue that internet is real property because with land, there is liability for trespass without injury
· Reasoning by analogy (and metaphor)
· Even if you buy the real property argument- there is a special rule for electro magnetic transmitions that must be damage/injury

POLICY ARGUMENT- this decision is “bad”

Class Notes 8/30/09

Bird v. Holbrook 130 Eng. Rep 911 (C.P. 1825)
Π is injured by a spring-loaded gun set by ∆ in trying to “catch the thief” that stole ∆’s tulips.

∆ insists that he is protecting his property; but π entered for an innocent purposes of retrieving a bird

Holding and Reasoning: π has an action and ∆ cannot use the defending his property defense
1. Setting a gun without any notice in inhumane act and the setter is liable for any injuries sufferedà NOTICE MAY HAVE DETERRED ENTRY
a. In the past, guns were set for a deterrence but ∆ set to cause an injury {PREVENTION v. ENTRAPMENT}
2. Recent Parliament action taken to prohibit (even with notice) at night
3. English law based on upholding human life and religion (morality)
4. Plus, ∆ was not even present, and if he was on the property with a shotgun, he wouldn’t have just shot the kid or even apprehended him
“No man can do indirectly that which he is forbidden to do directly”
(Prof. said that the court could have also made a good public safety policy argument)
· Prof also said that if there was noted posted it would NOT have been battery because there was no intent to harmà intent here is defined by purpose; see pg 9 where KNOWLEDGE = INTENT

Class Notes 9/1/09

Mohr v. Williams- Intentional Torts (Dr. decides during surgery to operate on ear without consent because worse than original ear)
Π claims battery – unauthorized invasion to a person (harmful or offensive)
Doctor in this case- HARMFUL, although concent can be given

Legal Issue: Issue #1- Scope of Consent
· Court decided π’s surgery was not implied consent
Legal Issue #2- Without (1) Wrongful Intent (2) Negligent, if cannot be assault/battery
∆- not malpractice, not negligence, not ill-intent

COURT- INTENT DOESN’T MATTER
1. For civil purposes
2. Refers to Vosburg- [wrongful = unlawful] 3. The ACT itself must be INTENTIONAL
a. Motivation doesn’t matter
b. Dr. intended to cut and perform the surgery
c. NOW, THE DOCTOR IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OUTCOME
4. Dr. couldn’t show that there was an emergency [life-threatening condition] 5. Consent- because when possible, society values that making the decision re: their lives/bodies is left up to the individual
6. Damages- nominal because the surgery was successful and there was no concrete harm because she needed the surgery anyway
· Kennedy v. Parrot (1956 case)- doctor takes care of everything he comes across if patient is already under surgery
· Courts have made up the rule that doctor’s

should be- not law, only persuasive

Minority view- exception

· Strict liability: boss can be liable if within the scope of employment (for employees, torts)

Class Notes: 9/3/09

Kirby v. Foster:
Rule-
1. Possession
2. Without claim of right
a. Disputed property= not the judge in your own case
· Against public policy otherwise
An injured party cannot be arbitrator of his own claim
Public order and peace are of GREATER IMPORTANCE
· If clearly your property, force can be used to DEFEND
#2- established because he state his claim
#1- Plaintiff did not take $ from ∆ with force

Π as an individual took $
Π as an agent of the corp he received $
(∆ argues)
No possession- also that π guilty of embezzlementà diff. from stealing because 1. Have possession lawfully and 2. But does not have ownership

Also key, π does not use force

Holding: to use the defense of right to use force to protect one’s property and recapture involves two things:
1. Possession by owner and
2. Purely wrongful taking/conversion without a claim of right

Recapture of Chattels- based on Restatement
1. Self-help remedy is allowed when a person wrongly obtained possession by:
a. Force
b. Fraud or
c. Without claim of right
2. Broad privilege, but there are limits
a. Especially in commercial situations
b. Today, commercial is governed by the U.C.C.
3. Privilege of recapture must be exercised promptly- called “hot pursuit requirement”
4. Must weigh the benefits and dangers of self-help

Ploof v. Putnam
Cause of action: did necessity apply to π’s actions?
· Normally, it would have been trespass, and ∆ could have untied the boat

(Bird- NOTICE would have taken away the intent- this would have challenged the prima facie case)
Necessity & inability to control movementà
· Allows entry onto land and interference with personal property which is normally trespass
· *** Where LIFE in danger

∆’s argument: that π could have docked elsewhere
· Π does not allege that he could not dock elsewhere
Court leaves open; says might have to prove at trial

Doctrine of Necessity aims at protecting human life

Law of general average contribution- to save human life, if property is destroyed at the time of peril, the loss will be spread amongst everyone

Vincent v. Lake Erie Transport
1. Docked, damaged the dock
2. Kept retying the boat to the dock
∆ claims necessity

“deliberate & direct efforts” = INTENT
· Causation is the key
· Making the choice to cause harm to the dock