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University of Connecticut School of Law
Utz, Stephen



Torts has four main categories:

Intentional Torts
Strict Liability Activities
Products Liability

Difference between intentional torts and negligence = depends on the kind of intent required

Intentional Torts

Situations where one person intentionally:

Contacts another in a harmful/offensive way
Makes another feat that a harmful or offensive contact will occur
Causes another person severe emotional distress

Basic Aspects of unintentional torts of negligent & reckless behavior:

Carelessness injures another

Injured party may recover damages if careless person had an obligation of care to the injury person or failed to be reasonably careful

Policy limitations:

When one person owes a duty to another
When the causal connection between conduct and harm is close enough to support liability

May avoid or reduce liability by:

Proving a defense
Showing that defendant is entitled to immunity

Stages of Tort Litigation:

Complaints and Initial Responses

Complaint is first step and alleges that certain facts are true

seeking damages or relief

Two options for defendant:

1.) ask judge to dismiss the claim b/c even if the allegations are true, plaintiff would have no legal right to recover damages
2.) file an answer to complaint à admitting or denying the allegations

Summary Judgment

Usually after discovery is completed
Removes the need for trial (no genuine disputes about the facts)


Parties present info in the form of testimony and physical material

Trier of Fact

Either jury or bench trial (judge) à determines what is true & applies legal rules to facts
Jury instructions specify what result is required and decide amount

Judgment as a Matter of Law

“Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict” or J.N.O.V.
Each party may ask the judge to rule in its favor on the ground that, even if the opposing party’s evidence is accepted as true, the opposing party should still lose

Directing a verdict

The court can enter into this judgment in favor of def. if pltf. fails to offer sufficient evidence to support an essential element of case


Judgment for plaintiff = damages or relief
Judgment for defendant = depends on the verdict
Judge can decline to enter judgment and may remand case to be tried again


Party that loses at any stage of the litigation may be entitled to an appeal
Will treat the facts the jury found as true the same (as long as there was any reasonable basis in the evidence for the jury’s conclusion)

Functions of Tort Law

Allows plaintiffs to obtain compensation for injuries inflicted by defendants or to obtain court orders that stop ongoing or anticipated injuries

Categories of Tort Law

Intentional Torts: plaintiff must prove that defendant intended to affect the plaintiff in an illegal manner in order to recover damages


Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Unintentional Torts: plaintiff may recover without proof that defendant meant to cause a prohibited effect (careless conduct)

Two main types:


Strict Liability Torts: plaintiff may recover for an injury without proving:

That the defendant meant to cause harm
That the defendant’s conduct lacked some required degree of carefulness


Liable for any action with the intent to make unpermitted physical contact with another person if the action cause the injury
Protects a person’s bodily integrity

right to be free from intentionally inflicted contact that is harmful or offensive

Defendant does not need to intend the specific injury caused
Nature of action can show that it was intended to be unpermitted

Causes of Action for Battery:

Intentional act by defendant
Resulting in harm or offensive contact
Without consent
Causing injury

Questions to Analyze:

What did the def. do to interfere with plaintiff’s bodily integrity?

Defendants conduct

What characterizes the conduct to be considered a battery?
Why does the court think that defendant’s conduct fits these requirements?

Polmatier v. Russ: def. bet father-in-law with beer bottle and then shot him twice leading to death à def. was then found naked half a mile down the road with the baby and rifle

Court found that def.’s conduct did not constitute as an act à act and the intent are joined to determine the culpability of the offender (def. found to be insane)

Two-pronged Analysis:

Whether def. intended the act which produced injury
Whether def. intended the resulting injury

Waters v. Blackshear: def. placed firecracker in sneaker of pltf. who were both minors – pltf. suffered burn injuries and it was known that def. had been lighting firecrackers for 10 mins. à battery case (based on negligence) and held that def.’s conduct was intentional leading to harm

Intending Contact that is Harmful

Nelson v. Carroll: Nelson owed Carroll money and Carroll struck Nelson in the head with the gun and then accidentally shot him in the stomach à committed battery when he struck him in the head

Intending Contact that is Offensive

Andrews v. Peters: pltf. tapped on the back of def.’s knee causing the knee to buckle – claims intentional assault and batt

s house who shot at the house and when he returned fire he injured neighbor (pltf.) à intention follows the bullet

Relevant Point of View

Intent to cause a harmful contact (battery) is from defendant’s POV
Intent to cause an offensive contact is reckoned from society’s or the victims POV

Whichever is more sensitive
Conditional threat is never an assault à contact threatened can be avoided by the person targeted

The outrageousness of intended emotional distress may be reckoned from either the defendant’s or the victim’s POV

A intends to strike and injure B but only grazes B and causes B no apprehension à A is still liable to B for battery
A intends to give B a slight push in jest and B considers such a push to be offensive à A is liable for battery
A intends to make B fear that A will shoot B with a gun and accidentally shoots B à A is liable to B for battery

Defenses to Assault and Battery

Self-Defense Proportional to conduct of plaintiff or third-party
Defense of self, others, and property


Person voluntarily relinquishes the right to be free from harmful or offensive contact or imminent apprehension of such contact = affirmative defense
Implied Consent à agreeing to play contact sport

McQuiggan v. Boy Scouts: paper clip shooting game when pltf. stopped playing but did not communicate this to others and was hit in the eye à he consented to the infliction of the injury by participating and pursuing the others (defs. could not reasonably assumed that his consent was still operative)

Hogan v. Tavezel: def. infected pltf. with genital warts while def. knew of the condition and failed to warn pltf. à concealment of information bars def. from relying on pltf.’s consent to avoid liability for battery

Consent usually judged from defendant’s point of view

Richard v. Mangion: when a person voluntarily participates in an altercation he may not recover for the injuries in which he incurs unless force is in excess and not reasonably anticipated (both boys were willing to engage in fight)

Defense of Self and Others – “The Proportionality Principle”

Proportionality is central to the defense of assault and battery à danger must be imminent