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Torts
University of South Carolina School of Law
Hubbard, F. Patrick

Pat Hubbard
Torts
Fall 2012
 
 
 
 
       I.            DUTY
A.    Acts (Misfeasance)
1.      General Rule: Duty of due care to protect foreseeable victim from foreseeable harm
2.      Exceptions:
a.       Land Ownership (Premises Liability)
                                                                                                        i.            Persons Off Premises
1.      Duty of due care for acts
2.      Conditions
A.    What caused harm?
                                                                                                                                                                                i.            Natural: No duty
                                                                                                                                                                              ii.            Artificial: Duty of due care
B.     What type of land?
                                                                                                                                                                                i.            Urban: Duty of due care
                                                                                                                                                                              ii.            Rural:
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      Natural — No duty
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      Artificial — Duty of due care
                                                                                                      ii.            Persons On Premises
1.      Three options (J/S):
A.    No categories (Duty of due care to all entrants)
B.     Two categories: Consent (duty of due care) & No consent (no duty)
C.     Three categories:
                                                                                                                                                                                i.            Invitee
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      Definition: A person who has consent to come on property and owner expects economic benefit from their presence
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      Public invitee vs. Business invitee
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iii.      Firefighter (J/S)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iv.      Duty: Inspect/discover and warn/fix of all dangers
                                                                                                                                                                                                            v.      Actual/Constructive Notice (e.g. slip-and fall cases)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          vi.      “Open and obvious danger” (J/S on liability)
                                                                                                                                                                              ii.            Licensee
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      Definition: A person who has consent to come on property but owner does not expect economic benefit
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      Duty: Warn/fix all known dangers
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iii.      Only dangers of which owner has actual notice
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iv.      Recreational use of land statutes — lesser duty
                                                                                                                                                                                                            v.      Cannot willfully/wantonly harm
                                                                                                                                                                            iii.            Trespasser (adult)
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      Definition: A person who has no consent to be on premises
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      Duty: No duty of due care; cannot willfully/wantonly/intentionally harm
                                                                                                                                                                            iv.            Children (trespassers)
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      Duty: Special duty of due care
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      No duty to discover trespasser
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iii.      If known, duty to warn/fix dangers if: foreseeable, AC>SC, unknown to child
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iv.      Attractive Nuisance Doctrine: Duty of due care if item is especially attractive to kids (i.e. swimming pool, trampoline)
b.      Landlord-Tenant
                                                                                                        i.            Duty to provide reasonably safe premises
c.       Intrafamily Duties
                                                                                                        i.            Common Law – Spousal Immunity and Parental Immunity mostly been removed
                                                                                                      ii.            Policy Reasons for Parental Immunity
1.      Disturb domestic tranquility if child sues
2.      Danger of fraud and collusion
3.      Deplete family resources
4.      Could benefit parent if child dies
5.      Interfere with parental care, discipline, and control
6.      Don’t need tort law to impose duty on mother
7.      Improper subject for litigation
8.      Comparative fault
9.      Reliance on common law rule
10.  Wrong institution (legislature should change rule)
11.  Flood of litigation
                                                                                                    iii.            Arguments Against Reasons for PI
1.      Not allowing compensation would be worse for domestic tranquility
2.      Judicial system can ferret out fraudulent claims
3.      Money comes from insurance so family would not be drained
4.      Possibility of parent inheriting money is issue for probate court
5.      Parents do no have unfettered discretion in discipline
6.      There are bad parents who need duty imposed on them
7.      Not improper for courts
8.      This can be decided by courts
9.      Ruling can be issues prospectively to no affect old and pending cases
10.  It is a common law rule so court has ability to change it
11.  Courts are here to handle litigation and floodgate will not occur
d.      Government Liability
                                                                                                        i.            Common Law – Sovereign Immunity
1.      Reasons:
A.    Prevent bankruptcy of state
B.     Cannot second guess government decisions
C.     Reliance on rule
D.    Wrong institution
E.     Floodgate problem
                                                                                                      ii.            Sovereign Immunity abolished but limits still exist
1.      Statutes (i.e. Torts Claims Acts) allow certain compensation but limit it
2.      Pockets of immunity exist (can’t sue judge or prosecutor)
                                                                                                    iii.            FOR EXAM: Under C/L P cannot sue, but can look to state law for TCA
e.       Open-Ended Liability
                                                                                                        i.            Non-Physical Harm
1.      Emotional distress (Bystander recovery)
A.    Concern for Self (or Property)
                                                                                                                                                                                i.            Parasitic: Caused by physical harm (allowed)
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      Pre-impact (e.g., fear)
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      Post-impact (e.g., scar)
                                                                                                                                                                              ii.            Impact rule (J/S): Requirement that physical contact must occur to get emotional damages [Traditional]                                                                                                                                                                             iii.            Zone of Danger: now will suffice for recovery, even without physical contact [Modern]                                                                                                                                                                                                               i.      Must show physical manifestation of emotional distress (can be minimal)
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      E.g., loss of sleep
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iii.      Nature of risk/ injury
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iv.      Time-framing
                                                                                                                                                                                                            v.      Immediate harm
                                                                                                                                                                                                          vi.      Future harm (e.g., medical monitoring)
                                                                                                                                                                            iv.            Apparent danger, but no danger in-fact – J/S
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      E.g., HIV
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      Needle must be infected (J/S)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iii.      Subjective v. objective fear (J/S)
                                                                                                                                                                              v.            Property damages- J/S
B.     Concern for Others
                                                                                                                                                                                i.            General rule: No recovery
                                                                                                                                                                              ii.            Exception: Where “special circumstances” exist (J/S)
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      Proximity
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      Contemporaneity
                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                           ii.            Property damage (J/S)
                                                                                                                                                                            iii.            Other losses (J/S- Depends on statute)
                                                                                                    iii.            Wrongful birth/ Wrongful life/ Prenatal injury
1.      Wrongful birth à Claim by parents for birth of unwanted child
A.    Healthy child
                                                                                                                                                                                i.            Actual damages: Medical costs, lost wages, pain & suffering, consortium, child-rearing
                                                                                                                                                                              ii.            Three approaches:
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      No claim (Benefit of child > Costs)
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      Off-set costs with benefits (Costs – Benefits = Damages)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iii.      Full recovery
B.     Child with disabilities (J/S)
                                                                                                                                                                                i.            Recovery of ordinary costs (J/S)
                                                                                                                                                                              ii.            Recovery of extraordinary costs (allowed)
                                                                                                                                                                            iii.            Mental distress of parent (J/S)
2.      Wrongful life à Claim by child
A.    Healthy child—No recovery
B.     Child with disabilities—Generally no recovery
3.      Prenatal injury à Claim by child
A.    Δ’s negligence causes damage to healthy fetus; leads to:
                                                                                                                                                                                i.            Fetus not born
                                                                                                                                                                              ii.            Dies early
                                                                                                                                                                            iii.            Injuries later in life
B.     J/S- Generally recoverable; some courts limit liability based on stage of pregnancy
                                                                                                    iv.            Economic loss
1.      Negligence resulting in pure economic loss (i.e., no physical injury to π or his property)
2.      Contracts v. torts
A.    Privity- Injury to other party in the contract (generally recoverable)
B.     Non-privity- Injury to foreseeable third party (J/S)
                                                                                                                                                                                i.            Recovery often denied due to “ripple” effect
B.     Utilities
1.      Strauss v. Belle Realty Co.
a.       Court rules for ∆ because P does not have direct contract
b.      Extending liability would lead to “crushing liability” and extend it to a nameless, faceless class of persons
2.      Glanzer v. Shephard
a.       If class of people service is designed for is known and identifiable, liability exists
C.     Negligent Entrustment
1.      Vince v. Wilson
a.       Duty of due care in allowing others to use chattel when you have control of it
b.      Key Factor: ∆’s knowledge of irresponsibility of injury
D.    Omissions (Nonfeasance)
1.      General Rule: No duty
2.      Exceptions:
a.       Special Relationship to Victim
                                                                                                        i.            Duty to Aid/Protect
                                                                                                      ii.            Parent/Child; Master/Servant
b.      Special Relationship to Injurer
                                                                                                        i.            Duty to control, supervise, warn
                                                                                                      ii.            Tarasoff – Duty of due care to foreseeable person if:
1.      Special relationship to injurer
2.      Knowledge of specific victim
3.      Existence of clear threat
4.      Violent act that results in serious injury
c.       Voluntary Undertaking
                                                                                                        i.            If person starts to act, must act with due care
                                                                                                      ii.            Two Routes (J/S):
1.      Claim exists if victim is worse off because of ∆’s negligence
2.      Does not matter if victim is worse off (d.c. no matter what)