Development of Liability
Torts are wrongs recognized by law as grounds for a lawsuit.
1. Defendant’s wrong results in harm to another person
2. Harm constitutes a legal injury – cause of action – can be pursued in court
3. If entitled to recover, are 3 possible areas of recovery
a) Economic loss – lost wages, medical expenses, property damage, etc.
b) Pain and suffering
c) Punitive damages – to punish or deter
4. Three types of harm
a) Physical harm
b) Economic harm costs plaintiff money
c) Dignitary harm is emotional harm only
5. Plaintiff has to prove fault
a) Burden of production of evidence
b) Burden of persuasion – have to allege some fault and be prepared to prove
c) Must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (51% rule)
Three bases of tort liability
1. Intentional acts
3. Strict liability – only one that is without fault
Where an individual is involved in an abnormally dangerous activity, they may be held liable for the damages associated therewith, even though they acted without any intent and were not negligent in their actions. For instance, blasting in a neighborhood, even where every possible precaution is taken is still likely to cause some damage to nearby property.
Intent (3) Kinds
1. Specific Intent—Desire to perform the act and cause the result
2. General Intent—Desire to perform the act and substantial certainty that result will occur
3. Transferred Intent—Where intent is focused on one individual but occurs to another. Only 5 Intentional Torts are subject to transferred intent
c. False Imprisonment
d. Trespass to Land
e. Trespass to Chattel
Age—Generally there is no age requirement for intent, and children as young as 4 have been found to be capable of forming intent. However, courts have found children at age 2 to be unable to form intent. Some states have passed statutes making parents liable for the their child’s malicious torts.
Mental Illness—Mentally disabled persons may be held responsible for their intentional torts as long as they are capable of forming the requisite intent. An action may lie against the person responsible for caring for the mentally ill individual, based upon negligent supervision. Some jurisdictions have carved out narr
ch creates an imminent reasonable apprehension of battery in the victim, coupled with the ability to effectuate the attempt. Statements of future action generally do not meet the imminent requirement. For assault to be committed, the individual must be aware of the possible harm.
False Imprisonment—Intent to confine an individual against their will within the boundaries set by the defendant.
Boundary–There are minimal limitations on the boundary so that an entire state or golf course could be small enough. Boundary is usually physical, such as a wall or the sea, but may be a threat of force for leaving.
Knowledge–Plaintiff must know or be harmed by the imprisonment, however, Plaintiff is not required to remember the confinement.
Escape–Where a reasonable mode of escape is available, false imprisonment doesn’t occur; however, Plaintiff must be aware of its existence, and Defendant is liable for injuries resulting from an attempted escape.