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University of Denver School of Law
Smith, Catherine E.

Smith-TORTS OUTLINE-Fall 2014
MAJORITY                   MINORITY
3 Theories of Tort Recovery
Strict Liability
4 Principles of Tort Law:
Proof Issues
Basic Rule – Π has the burden of proof to prove each of the prima facia elements by a preponderance of the evidence
The Δ has the burden of proving the defenses by a preponderance of the evidence
                                                              i.      Contributory Negligence
                                                            ii.      Assumption of the Risk
Types of Burdens:
Burden of Pleading
Burden of Production:
                                                              i.      The burden on the party to produce evidence that shows the element of the claim – if the Π fails to do this, the claim will usually be dismissed
1.      This burden will often shift between the parties
Burden of Persuasion:
                                                              i.      Party must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (50%+), their case
1.      Π’s overall burden to prove their claim
2.      Usually doesn’t shift
                                                            ii.      2 types of Evidence:
1.      Direct: proves a fact without inference
2.      Circumstantial: must infer a fact from surrounding events or circumstances
Note: Persuasion & Production are normally burdens of the Π
Res Ipsa Liquitor
Collapses duty-breach-causation-damages
                                                              i.      Byrne v. Boadle – flour barrel
                                                            ii.      McDougald v. Perry – tire bouncing loose form underneath the car
3 Elements:
                                                              i.      Accident must be of the kind that ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone’s negligence
                                                            ii.      Must be caused by an agency or instrumentality in the exclusive control of the Δ
                                                          iii.      Must not be due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the Π
Evidentiary Weight
                                                              i.      RIL will prevent a direct verdict
                                                            ii.      Jurisdicitons:
1.      Inference of Negligence: the jury can decided whether to accept or reject the inference of negligence
2.      Presumption of Negligence:
a.       Weak: Jury must find Δ negligent unless he can prove otherwise by rebuttable evidence
                                                                                                                                      i.      burden of production shifts to the Δ to prove that he was not negligent
1.      Hurts the Δ more than inference does
                                                                                                                                    ii.      CO is in this jurisdiction
                                                                                                                                  iii.      Ybarra v. Spangard
b.      Strong:  The jury must find the Δ negligent unless he can prove otherwise by a preponderance of the evidence
                                                                                                                                      i.      both burdens of production & persuasion shift to Δ
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Δ has to prove the whole case, essentially
* There is no uniform code of tort law – it is all common law
·    Duty – decided by judge: matter of law
a.       Establishing a legal duty
                                                              i.      Creating a risk of peril
1.      Default Rule: Everyone has a duty not to create an unreasonable risk (RST 2nd §321)
                                                            ii.      Voluntary assumption of duty/ Affirmative Action – once you have begun to save someone, you assume the duty of continued care
1.      P. 141 (RST § 324):

dy of another person under circumstances in which that other person is deprived of normal opportunities of self-protection
d.      Parents to Children
e.       Possessors of land who hold it open to the public
2.      Land Owners and Occupiers
a.       Status of Person Entering:
                                                                                                                                      i.      Trespassers: someone who enters upon and remains on the property without permission or consent of the owner – their intent doesn’t matter
1.      The SOC = the owner must refrain from inflicting wanton or willful or intentional injuries
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      Cannot maintain a trap
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      Frequent: Owners are required to warn of artificial and hidden dangers
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      Discovered/ Known: Owners are required to warn of artificial and hidden dangers
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iii.      Active conduct (like blasting) accords to a reasonableness standard