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Torts
University of Connecticut School of Law
Macgill, Hugh C.

 
TORTS
PROF. MACGUILL
FALL 2009
 
 
INTENTIONAL TORTS
Intent defined –actor desires to cause consequences of his act, or believes that consequences are substantially certain to result from it. (RST)
–          met either by purpose to cause tort (like contact), or acts with substantial certainty (subjective) that tort will occur
–          higher culpability than negligence
–          Transferred intent – intent to commit tort against one, and actually hit another.
o   Still culpable. Intent transfers to other party
–          ACT must be intentional, NOT result. Liable for unforeseen injuries
–          Vosburg v. Putney – liable as long as intended to kick classmate, doesn’t matter didn’t intend to harm. Boy severely injured
–           
 
TRESPASS TO PERSON
BATTERY – intentional infliction of a harmful or offensive bodily contact
–          intent – to make bodily contact
–          harmful – causing bodily or physical pain
–          offensive – offensive to a reasonable sense of dignity
o   Mohr v. Williams – P consents for operation on right ear. D operates on left. This is offensive bodily conduct even though no injury or intent to harm.
o   Alcorn v. Mitchell – D spits at P. (Offensive battery)
–          Conduct can be indirect.
o   Ex. Ordering a dog to attack plaintiff, or setting up string for them to trip on
–          Can get punitive and nominal damages
–          Plaintiff does not have to know of the Tort at time it occurred
–          Can get mental distress damages
 
TRESPASS TO LAND (close)
–           D intentionally enters P’s land, or causes another to enter, or an object to enter
o   ALSO INTENTIONAL IF SUBSTANTIALLY CERTAIN TO OCCUR
o   “intentional unauthorized entry onto the land of another”
–          Causes another person – Smith v. Stone. Forcibly put on property. D Not liable.
–          Also if enters lawfully, but remains w/o a right
–          OLD à SL for voluntary acts
–          RST 166à only SL if trespass while carrying out an “abnormally dangerous activity”
–          Only to possessor of property (like rentee). NOT owner
–          INTENT – intent to commit physical contact with P’s land
o   MISTAKE NOT AN EXCUSE (think land is urs, but not)
o   NOT intent to harm
–          Damages – Can still get nominal damages, even if no visible harm to property
–          Dougherty v. Stepp – Surveyors trespass, D claims did not harm property
o    from every entry, there is some damage, even if nothing more than treading of grass.
–          Damages – for ALL consequences of trespass, even if not foreseeable
o   Cleveland Park Club v. Perry – boy puts tennis ball in hole. Doesn’t think it’s a suction cup. Liable for damages
TRESPASS TO CHATTELS
–          D intentionally interferes w/ P’s use or possession of personal property
–          “trespass to chattels is the intentional interference with another’s possessory interest in a chattel, resulting in damage to that interest”
–          INTENT – Intent to touch, change, use, or take chattel. NOT intent to damage
–          RST 218 – no nominal damages for harmless intermeddlings w/ chattel. P must show actual damage.
–          RST 219 – Loss of possession is a damage.
–          MISTAKE NOT A DEFENSE
 
CONVERSION
–          D intentionally; substantially interferes with P’s possession of personal property (not land) that it is fair to require D to pay full value
–          Difference w/ T.of Chattel is degree of interference.
o   Ex. Extent and duration of D’s control. Whether acted in good or bad faith. Degree of harm
–          Mistake not a defense
–          Poggi v. Scott – Scott buys house and P’s wine is in basement. Sells the wine barrels thinking it was empty barrels.
o   COURTà all that matters is that they didn’t belong to him, but to P. Liable for full wine
–          Ex. Steal goods, buy stolen goods, transfer chattel to someone else
–          MISTAKE NOT A DEFENSE
 
DEFENSES TO INTENTIONAL TORTS
CONSENSUAL DEFENSES
–          INTENTIONAL TORTS – ASSUME THERE WAS NO CONSENT
–          If P consented to intentional interference with body or property, D not liable.
–          Consent – can be express or implied from P’s conduct or the circumstances
o   Objective manifestation – reasonably seemed to defendant that plaintiff consented.
§ Can be words, conduct, lack of conduct.
§ Test – if reasonable person in position of defendant would believe P consented
§ O’Brien v. Cunard – Vaccine shot. P waited in line for vaccination, told doctor she had had vaccines before, held up her arm, and said nothing else. OBJ. CONSENT
–          Mohr. V. William

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o   Katko v. Briney – Sets up spring trap in boarded up house (not dwelling). Kid breaks and enter with intent to steal. Spring gun goes off and hits in leg.
§ COURT à Similar to ruling in BIRD. Also, can use in felony that is violent in nature.
§ Breaking an entering not a violent felony (note – was NOT in dwelling)
RECAPTURE OF CHATTELS D can use reasonable force under the circumstances
–          RST 2d 101- Can only use force if WRONGFULLY taken (taken by force, fraud, or w/o claim/right)
o   Kirby v. Foster – P is a bookkeeper at Providence Warehouse Co run by Ds. P loses warehouse money, and it is deducted from his pay. D gives P money to pay other workers. P takes the money he believes is owed to him. Ds grab him and injure to take back.
§ Court à Ds willingly gave him the money. P’s claim to money was an honest mistake.
NECESSITY
–          When D is privileged to harm P’s property, even though P blameless
–          Privileged when act necessary to prevent great harm to 3rd persons or D.
–          Danger must be reasonably apparent
–          P liable for damage caused by interfering with D’s necessity privilege
o   Ploof v. Putnam – (reverse parties) family moors sloop to a dock during a storm. D unmoors, causing damage to P and injury. COURT à P had privilege, D liable for interfering
–          PUBLIC NECESSITY – (to many people) – Generally D pays no damages, nor government
o   Can be done by public officials or private parties
–          PRIVATE NECESSITY – (D’s interest or a few people) – D pays damages
–          Must show ACTUAL damages. (trespass of land w/o damages not compensable)
–          D has right to interfere with property under necessity
Vincent v. Lake Erie Transportation Co. – D moors to dock during storm. Moor damages P’s dock. Court à P had right to use dock, but obligation to compensate for