University of Illinois – Professor Hurd – Torts – Spring 2014
Vosburg v. Putney
Light shin kick causes permanent disability
If the intended act itself is unlawful, the intention to commit the act is also unlawful. One need not intend harm to commit an intentional tort.
Dougherty v. Stepp
D entered P’s land, did no damage at all
Every unauthorized (unlawful) entry onto the land of another constitutes a trespass regardless of whether actual damage is caused to the land.
Garrett v. Dailey
Pulls chair out from women who breaks hip
D does not need the intent to injure, embarrass or commit an assault to be held liable for battery if he had knowledge P would try to sit where the chair was.
Wagner v. Utah
Mentally impaired man makes contact
A person doesn’t have to intend to cause harm or even appreciate that his contact will cause harm if he intends to make contact and that contact is harmful.
Mohr v. Williams
Consent to R ear, operates on L ear
If no consent is given for the spec. touching, assumed unauthorized + unlawful, and gives rise to the civil tort of assault and battery regardless of the D’s intent.
Hudson v. Craft
P hurt in illegal boxing match, sues promoter
Maj: Consenting to an illegal act is ineffective. Min: Illegal consent is OK. Exception: If law is there to protect a class of person, then consent is ineffective.
Self Defense and Defense of Property
Courvoisier v. Raymond
Mistakenly shoots P.O. during robbery
Self-defense may constitute a defense for int’l torts even if D’s actions stem from a mistaken but reasonable belief that D is under attack.
Bird v. Holbrook
Spring loaded gun to protect tulips
Although some force may be used to defend a property interest, the force must not be intended solely to inflict bodily harm upon trespassers.
M’Ilvoy v. Cockran
Pushes trespasser off fence, wounds him
To get someone off your property, you must first ask them to leave and then you can assault and batter them – but you cannot wound them.
Ploof v. Putnam
Unties P’s boat during storm, injuries ensue
Necessity caused by an “act of God” resulting in an inability to control movements justifies trespass or violation of another’s personal property.
Vincent v. Lake Erie
Ties up during storm, causes damages
Necessity = partial defense. No punitive, but still compensatory. 1) Deliberate loss transfer; 2) Private gain; and 3) Harm must be done to property.
McGuire v. Almy
Insane D batters nurse P
Insanity will bar liability ONLY when D is incapable of forming the mens rea required.
Reasonable Person Test
Vaughan v. Menlove
Stack of hay + dumb farmer = raging fire
D is liable for damages because he failed to exercise the level of care that would be exercised by a reasonable person in preventing fire on his property.
Roberts v. Ring
77 y/o hit 7 y/o while driving
“Reasonable man” is used to determine if there was negligence even if the person charged is elderly. His infirmities don’t change the standard of care used.
Daniels v Evans
19 y/o P’s motorcycle collided with D’s car
Minors are entitled to be judged by a negligence standard commensurate with their age, experience, and wisdom only if NOT engaged in adult activities.
Breunig v. American Family
Crazy driver believes she can fly, hits another car
Insanity may be a defense for negligence if D is suddenly overcome without forewarning by a mental disorder that makes him incapable of conforming his conduct to the standards of a reasonable man under like circumstances.
Fletcher v. Aberdeen
Blind man falls into hole during city construction
The standard of care for a person w/ disability is what a reasonable person under the same or similar disability would exercise under the circumstances.
Denver v. Peterson
No facts; warehouse man rich v. poor
A person’s wealth does not impact the level of care he is required to exercise.
Calculus of Risk
Blyth v. Birmingham Water
Severe frost bursts pipes and floods part of P’s home
Liability for negligence may arise from the failure to do something that a reasonable person exercising ordinary care would do or doing something a reasonable person exercising ordinary precautions would not have done.
Eckert v. Long Is. R.R.
Man died saving child from railroad tracks.
Negligence doesn’t arise from an act designed to preserve human life. Rather, negligence implies some act of commission or omission that is itself wrongful.
Osborne v. Montgomery
Bike accident when car door opens suddenly
A proper measure of ordinary care requires consideration of what “the great mass of mankind” would think prudent to do/not do given similar circumstances.
Cooley v. Public Serv
Storm makes loud noise on P’s public phone
A D exercising the appropriate standard of care given the circumstances is not liable for any incidental damages occurring to others from his conduct.
U.S. v. Carroll Tow
Barge unattended breaks free and sinks
Liability exists if the burden of taking precautions < the probability of injury multiplied by the gravity of any resulting injury (B >< P x L). Andrews v. United Air P hit in head w/ case that fell out of overhead cpt A common carrier owes a duty of utmost care and the vigilance of a very cautious person towards its passengers. Custom Titus v. Bradford Std cars on narrow tracks ‘caused’ death The std of care for business practices is that of the average prudent man engaged in that particular trade considering the usages, habits, and ordinary risks. Mayhew v. Sullivan Mining P worked in D’s mine, fell through a hole and was seriously injured. Industry custom is not a defense to gross negligence. If a business acts according to “custom” and the custom itself constitutes “gross negligence,” compliance with custom cannot excuse liability. T.J. Hooper No radios, barges lost A business may be liable for failing to adopt new technology if the use of the technology constitutes reasonable prudence. Custom does not justify lagging behind what the CoR tells us is reasonable prudence. Statutes/Regulations Osborne v. McMasters D sells unlabeled poison that kills a woman If a statute imposes a duty to protect/benefit others, and he neglects that that duty, he is liable for negligence per se and must pay damages for injuries that are proximately caused by his actions if they what statute was designed to prevent. Martin v. Herzog No lights on buggy, dies in car accident An omission, or failure to perform an act required by statute, constitutes negligence per se. Uhr v. East Greenbush Scoliosis testing statute A private right of action if: P is one of the class for whose benefit the statute was enacted, if recognition of a private right would promote the legislative purpose, and if creation of such a right would be consistent with the legislative scheme. Judge + Jury (Judicial Per Se Rules) Balt + Ohio R.R. v. Goodman P was killed by train, did not stop-look-listen. A driver may be liable for contributory negligence if he fails to take reasonable precautions, such as getting out of his car and looking for oncoming trains, to guard against a risk of which he is aware. Pakora v. Wabash Ry. P killed at 4-way RR crossing; he didn’t stop, look, and listen When approaching a R.R. track, an individual is not req’d to stop, get out, and look for oncoming trains before crossing the track if doing so is not customary and may ultimately be more dangerous. Causation But-For Causation Union Stock Yards v. CBQ R.R. RR car damage could be discovered by either of 2 D’s working together When multiple parties are responsible to some degree for harm, the party that is less responsible may seek indemnity for any damages it is required to pay from the party that is principally responsible. Kingston v. Chicago Ry. 2 fires, 1 caused by D, merged and did damage to P’s home When 2+ human entities both proximately cause injury to P, and only one is identified, P may recover the full amount of damages suffered from the one known wrongdoer. New York Central R.R. v. Grimstad Man falls overboard, wife can’t find life ring, he drowns A D will not be liable for injury suffered by a P unless D’s actions are the actual cause of the injury. Actual cause is also known as the “cause in fact” of the injury.
medical assistance whenever and to whomever he is asked.
Montgomery v. Nat’l Convey
Trucks stalled, didn’t place warning signs, P crashed into trucks
When an actor’s prior conduct, even if not tortious, creates a continuing risk of harm of a type characteristic of the conduct, the actor has a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent or minimize the harm.
Duty to Rescue
Coggs v. Bernard
Promises to move brandy, spills barrels
If one makes a gratuitous promise and fails to exercise reasonable care in performance of the promise, the promisor may be liable for negligence.
Erie R.R. v. Stewart
Usual watchman wasn’t on duty, P was hit by a train at a crossing
A company’s failure to undertake voluntary but well-established security measures, when the company has created an expectation of measures in the public, may constitute negligence.
Marsalis v. LaSalle
Cat scratch + rabies medication
One who voluntarily undertakes to care for, or provide relief/assistance to, an ill, injured, or helpless person is under a legal obligation to use reasonable care.
Kline v. 1500 MA Ave
Tenant attacked in apt that had been safer
Landlord has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to minimize the risk to tenants of foreseeable criminal acts committed on the entire premises.
Tarasoff v. Cal Regents
Tells psychologist he wants to kill a girl, pysch doesn’t warn girl
There is no duty so as to control 3P so as to prevent him from causing physical harm from another (P) unless (a) a special relation exists between the actor (Dr.) and the 3P (D) which imposes a duty upon the actor to control the 3P’s conduct
Butterfield v. Forrester
Leaves large pole in the road, P rides horse too fast and crashes
As long as the D's act was not “reckless or wanton,” recovery is completely barred, even in cases of extreme negligence, where P does not exercise ordinary care for their own safety.
Beems v. Chi & Peor. R.R.
Brakesman fell working on a fast moving train
Even if a P engages in unsafe activities, if his injuries are ultimately caused by a D’s negligence, the P has an action against D for negligence.
Gyerman v. US Lines Co.
Fishmeal stacking, warned but went to work
A D may successfully defend against liability for negligence if it proves the P’s contributory negligence was a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
LeRoy Fibre v. Chi/Mil/ StP Ry.
RR sparks start a fire on P’s property.
P cannot be guilty of CN for using his land in a lawful manner (so long as it doesn’t cause harm to another). Alt rule: you need to curtail your liberty, so long as its reasonable, if you can guard against another’s cost inefficiency.
Derheim v. N. Fiorito Co.
Car accident, P wasn’t wearing seatbelt
The amount of damages D is required to pay based on his negligent injury of a P in a car crash may not be reduced by the fact that P was not wearing a seat belt.
Last Clear Chance Doctrine
Davies v. Mann
Runs over a tied up donkey
Party who last has a clear opportunity of avoiding the accident not withstanding the negligence of his opponent is considered solely responsible for it.
Fuller v. IL Central R.R.
Train didn’t whistle + could have stopped.
If a party has the last clear opportunity to avoid an accident and fails to do so, regardless of CN, the first party is held solely liable for the accident.