Select Page

Torts
University of Connecticut School of Law
McLean, Willajeanne F.

TORTS OUTLINE

1) INTRODUCTION TO TORTS
a) What is a tort?
i) To commit a tort is to act in a manner that is wrongful toward and injurious to another. Torts it he collection of recognized legal claims that enable a person to obtain redress from another on the ground that he has suffered injury by virtue of being wrong by the other.
ii) Negligence
(1) Duty + Breach + Causation + Injury
iii) Walter v. Wal-Mart Stores
(1) Facts:
(a) Pharmacist working at Wal-mart negligently gave Mrs. Walter wrong drug causing lots of health problems. Wal-mart was held liable under doctrine of respondeat superior. Court rejected arguments of comparative fault/failure to mitigate.
(2) Analysis:
(a) Walter had to show Wal-Mart owed her duty, they breached that duty, the breach of duty was a cause of injuries she suffered.
iv) Common Law and Statute
(1) In U.S. tort law has developed through judge made decision- torts claim is a common law claim. Some countries have what we consider torts claims built into statutes, and so do some states. However, these statutes are broad and require judicial interpretation and so in practice they look the same as other states. Some statutes also may create new torts causes of action.
v) Responsibilities in tort
(1) Respondeat superior
(a) Let the master answer [for the wrongs of the servant] (2) Multiple Tortfeasors
(a) Multiple parties each liable for harm to the victim
(3) Comparative Fault
(a) Have to look at the role of the victims
(4) Insurance
(a) There can be liability insurance, i.e. malpractice insurance—you pay a premium, insurance company indemnifies victim
(b) Victim may have insurance which may/may not factor into recovery.
b) Tort Law in Context
i) Tort contrasted with Other Areas of Law
(1) Criminal law
(a) Different standard of evidence
(b) Punitive v. compensatory
(c) Public law v. law of private redress—victim not compensated
(2) Administrative Regulation
(a) Like state standards set by agencies
(b) Punitive- there might be fine for breaking standard, but no redress to victim – p

(a) Because a pedestrian has a right to cross a public road, people driving carriages along the road owe a duty of care to them so as to avoid running them over.
(2) Winterbottom v. Wright
(a) Privity rule: P cannot recover for injuries caused by the D’s negligent manufacture and maintenance of the coach wheel absent privity between P and D.
(3) Thomas and Wife v. Winchester
(a) Privity issue revisited. P was injured when her pharmacist gave her the wrong medicine, but it was the supplier that labeled it wrong. Found for P. How reconciled with Winterbottom rule (no privity). It’s different: nature of the risk (death), foreseeable that no one else would know it was poison, also “imminently dangerous”
(4) Less important cases but are in book
Loop v. Litchfield: lack of duty under Winterbottom privity rule between manufacturer of defective wheel and eventual buyer