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Torts II
University of Georgia School of Law
Wells, Michael L.

1Torts Outline – Spring 2004
1. Causation
            1. Intro
                        – to win a negligence case, the P has to show 3 things:
                                    1. Fault/negligence                                                                   
                                    2. Cause in fact
                                    3. Scope of P’s liability – to show that he is liable for the injury/harm
            2. Proximate Cause                                                                 
                        – also called scope of D’s duty, scope of liability, question of legal cause
                        – have to determine the limit of the scope of liability, the proximate cause limit
                                    – one big issue is whether or not the damages were foreseeable
                        1. In re Polemis –
– boat chartered, employees of charterers negligently caused a board to fall, which caused a spark which set fire to boat
                                    – it wasn’t foreseeable that the plank would cause a spark (per fact finders)
                                    – rule: if someone is negligent, they are liable for all damages that are                              directly caused by the negligence
– the fact that it wasn’t foreseeable – like the damage wasn’t foreseeable here – or reasonably anticipated doesn’t matter
– this is the direct consequences test – if what happened is a direct consequence of the negligence, it doesn’t matter if it was foreseeable
                        2. Wagon Mound
– D’s spilled oil went by wind and tide to P’s wharf, D didn’t know that it was flammable when in the water – D was negligent in discharging the oil
– P’s workers sparked and set a cotton rag on fire that was floating on some debris in the harbor
                                    – but for the D’s negligence, the fire wouldn’t have happened
– D isn’t liable for the destruction of the dock – since it’s not foreseeable that oil spilled on water will catch fire
                                    – this is the foreseeability rule
                        3. Direct consequence rule vs foreseeability rule
                                    a. direct consequence rule
– seems to go against the where there are two innocents, the one who occasioned the harm should pay for it
– but this isn’t between two innocents, it’s between a negligent person and an innocent person – so the negligent person should pay – since this is more fair than making the innocent pay
                                    b. foreseeability rule
– it is not consistent with current ideas of morality and justice to make someone liable for harms that they couldn’t foresee           
– reasoning – you have no choice to engage in the behavior or not if you can’t foresee the harm – a concealed choice is no choice at all
                                    c. which argument is better?
                                                – it is a value choice
– Polemis rule – direct consequences test – is followed in most Am jurisdictions – per Prof Epstein
                                                – new Restatement says the opposite
                                                – per Wells – can find cases going either way
                        4. Doughty v Turner Manu
– employee negligently drops something in vat, this was negligent in that it could have splashed out
                                    – later, vat explodes and injures people
– the vat exploding wasn’t a foreseeable conseq

d ran the P off the road
– the radio station doesn’t have a relationship with the kids who did the driving or with the P who got run off the road
– the reasoning was that if you could reasonably foresee that your conduct would result in harm to the P
                                    – the radio station provoked the recklessness by their contest
                        8. Physical Injury
                                    A. Berry v Sugar Notch Borough
                                                – dude driving too fast when a tree fell on him
– city tried to argue that he was contributorily negligent since he was driving too fast
                                                – P was allowed to recover – he wasn’t cont neg
– under both Polemis and Wagon Mound, he would be able to recover
– Polemis – the falling of the tree isn’t a direct result of going too fast; this case is a coincidence, not a consequence
                                                            – Wagon Mound – focuses on foreseeability rule; tree
happening to fall on you at a given moment isn’t a foreseeable consequence of driving too fast
                                    B. Central of GA Ry v Price
– P negligently not dropped off at her station; she had to stay at a hotel where her lamp caught her mosquito netting on fire and burned her
– she wasn’t able to sue the RR company – there was an intervening factor – the hotel