Torts – Outline – Fall 2008
1. Torts: Introduction
a. Definition: civil wrongs other than contracts for which a remedy may be obtained usually in the form of damages, obligations people have that they have not agreed to. Non-criminal obligations or duties that all persons as individuals owe to all other individuals.
b. Purpose of Tort Law:
i. Allocation of Losses to those who ought (fairness, justice, economic efficiency) to bear them, decides what to do with transferring losses;
ii. Compensation to persons for harm caused: Damages through $ aimed to “restore” people to their original condition
1. Compensation for losses caused by wrongful acts or omissions of another;
2. Prevention of future losses and harm: deterrence, notice of what one will have to pay for
iii. Punishment/Admonition: primary purpose of Criminal Law, secondary purpose of Tort Law.
a. Definition: Unintentional fault: the failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation; any conduct that falls below the legal standard established to protect others against unreasonable risk of harm, except conduct that is intentionally, wantonly, or willfully disregardful of others’ rights.
b. Liability without Fault:
i. In order to be negligent the ∆ must have some control over the situation:
1. Cannot be an unanticipated illness which causes an act:
a. Cohen v. Petty- must have a specific knowledge of the possibility of fainting while driving for negligence.
ii. Strict Liability: Liability that does not depend on actual negligence but is based on an absolute duty to make something safe.
1. Ex) Spano v. Perini Corp.: there is strict liability for blasting
3. B = Burden, inconvenience or costs of taking precautions to prevent the occurrence
a. ex) putting a lock on the turntable
4. If B < P x L, precautions should have been taken. a. ex) Krayenbuhl: a lock is a trivial burden and does not restrict the public good of the railroad b. ex) Gulf Refining v. Williams: the probability of a “rough bung cap” causing an explosion after an employee notices it must be weighed against the seriousness of the possible consequences even if it is improbable: proof is “sufficient” to allow a jury to evaluate. c. ex) Carroll Towing: barge secured negligently, breaks and hits another barge which then sinks. Π argues that if bargee had been present, loss could have been prevented. -Creation of Learned Hand formula; B