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Torts
University of Oklahoma College of Law
Richter, Liesa

*TORTS*
FALL 2007 * RICHTER

I.Types of Torts
a. Intentional
b. Negligence
c. Strict Liability
II. Types of Damages
a. Nominal: Small amount to establish public record of tortious wrongdoing
b. Compensatory: Out-of-pocket expenses for injury
i. Specific: i.e. doctor’s bill
ii.General:pain and suffering; impairment of earning capacity (Vosburg)
c. Punitive: to punish wrongdoer (could be substantial amount)
d. Collateral Source Rule:$ from other sources (i.e. insurance) not subtracted from P’s tort recovery
III. Types of Motions
a. Motion to Dismiss:
i. Δ can say, “Even if you look at all evidence in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, Π’s cause of action cannot be granted relief.” (Π states no actionable claim.) Facts are limited to those stated in Π’s complaint.
b. Motion for Summary Judgment:
i. Facts of the case are not limited to those stated in Π’s complaint. Δ can bring in additional facts.
ii.Facts are looked at in a light most favorable to the non-moving party.
iii. Movant has the burden of proving there are no genuine issues of material fact
· No findings of fact necessary—Judge can rule for one party or the other without having to go trial.
· Can also limit the disputed facts at trial
c. Motion for Directed Verdict:
i. Even if you look at all evidence in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, the moving party cannot be found guilty as a matter of law, because no reasonable jury could have found that the non-moving party met his/her burden of proof. This bypasses the use of a jury. It determines reasonable minds could not differ as to the conclusions drawn from the evidence.
d. Motion for JNOV (Judgment Non Obstante Veredicto):
i. If losing party had previously put in a motion for directed verdict, can ask judge to not uphold the jury’s verdict and make the decision on his (judge’s) own. Judge can rule as a matter of law that the “losing party” wins if he agrees that no reasonable jury could have come to the conclusion the jury did.
ii.A trial judge might deny a directed verdict, but grant Motion for JNOV so that the jury could fact find. If an appellate court eventually disagrees with a directed verdict, it would have to be a new trial, because it never went to a jury. Here, it had, so their findings of fact can be used without retrying the case. (more efficient than directed verdicts).
e. Motion for New Trial available if a “second chance” is desired:
i. Jury was clearly wrong in its finding for a party (suggests the jury was misled or prejudiced)
ii.Damages were excessive
iii. Procedural Errors OR
iv. Verdict could cause manifest injustice
IV. Stages trial judges can make mistakes (lends to appellate review):
a. Grant/deny motion to dismiss a complaint
b. Grant/deny motion for summary judgment
c. Permit improper statements by counsel or squelching proper ones
d. Exclude relevant or admit improper evidence
e. Grant/Deny motions for directed verdict
f. Erroneous Jury instruction
g. Grant/deny motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV)
h. Grant/deny motions for new trial
V. Roles at Trial
a. Review the law: Judge
b. Find the Facts: Jury
c. Apply the facts to the law: jud

dn’t testify because jury might sympathize with 5-year-old boy)
X. Why might P not testify?
a. If P does not know the exact events of what happened, it is better to have a witness who has personal knowledge of the events to testify.
b. Also, P might be very angry about the situation that led to the lawsuit to begin with; this comes across poorly in court.
c. P is biased to his/her own case; it is better to have as neutral of witnesses as possible
XI. Why would a trial court find an amount of damages, but not award them to P? For the sake of efficiency. If this case is brought on appeal and the P wins, the case will need to go back to a trial court to decide on damages, and will need to rehear all evidence to get the proper justification for the amount. Once the old jury is dispersed, you cannot get them back together again to determine the amount of damages (and this might be after a considerable amount of time, anyway, making it not as effective.) This is not efficient!
XII. In Katko v. Briney, the Δ requested that the jury consist of residents of the community where the property was located. Why might they have done that?Π was a very handsome man that was well-known in the community; Δs were not well liked in the community. More so, there was an all-woman jury.