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Torts
University of Oregon School of Law
Gassama, Ibrahim J.

Torts Outline
I. The functions and goals of the Tort system:
A) Compensation
1) To make people whole again
B) Deterrence
1) Don’t want people to do it again
2) People don’t take matters into their own hand
C) Avoidance of Undue Burdens on Economic Activities
1) Limit liability—to corporations and individuals (If you force corporations to internalize losses that corporation will no longer exist)
D) Legal Administration Effectiveness and Efficiency in the Accident Law Process
1) Cost to the courts
E) Fairness
1) See that justice is done
II. The Culpability Spectrum
A) Intentional Harm
1) Assault and Battery are most common of these, purposeful cause of harm
B) Unintended Harm
1) Negligence
(a) Unreasonable conduct that creates a foreseeable risk of harm.
(i) Recklessness
i. Conduct shows a conscious disregard of a high risk of harm.
(b) Strict Liability
(i) Causation is the basis for responsibility without regard to assigning culpability.
III. Overview of Negligence
A) McDonald’s Coffee Case
1) Old lady passenger in car spilled McDonalds coffee. Suffered 3rd degree burns on her legs and groin.
2) She attempted to settle for the cost of medical expenses. The coffee was kept much higher than that of normal coffee.
3) McDonalds knew of risk but did not warn or prevent risk. Jury awarded her $160,000 in compensatory damages and 2.7 in punitive (the total revenue from 2 days of coffee sales). The punitive amount was later reduced to $480,000 (triple the compensatory amount).
B) Elements of Negligence
1) Duty- does D have a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care to avoid the risk of harming persons or property?
(a) Reasonable care- everyone owes a general duty of reasonable care as to his or her conduct. Generally this is decided by a judge
2) Breach of Duty- Was the D conduct unreasonable as to breach that duty that is owed.
(a) Foreseeability- Could/should the D have foreseen the risks taken.
(b) In light of these risks was the conduct, or omission, reasonable or not?
3) Causation
(a) “But for” rule- would the plaintiff have avoided harm “but for” the D’s conduct?
(b) “Substantial factor”- was the conduct a substantial factor contributing to ∏’s injuries?
(i) This works better in

and they ended the contest at a really poor time. It was foreseeable (given the discussion BASS had prior to the competition) that someone could get hurt without these precautions
(iii) Cause- As a result of their failure to make sure their contest was run smoothly two boaters involved in the competition caused the injury to the victim.
IV. Defenses to Negligence
A) Try to negate one of the 5 factors of the plaintiff’s prima facie case
B) Affirmative Defenses- Defenses that D must prove.
1) Contributory negligence- The ∏was also negligence and therefore contributed to the resulting damage
(a) Depending on jurisdiction, this may be a complete bar to recovery
(b) If not a complete bar it is called comparative negligence.
2) Assumption of Risk
(a) The ∏ knew of the risks and agreed not to hold D liable for them
3) Statute of Limitations
The ∏ has not brought the suit in a timely manner.