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Torts
Villanova University School of Law
Wertheimer, Ellen

 
Torts
Wertheimer
Fall 2014
 
      I.            Introduction
1.      The Basics
a.       Tort: a civil action other than contract
                                                              i.      Compensate injured party
                                                            ii.      Prevent self-help (violence)
                                                          iii.      Deter future bad conduct
b.      All about who pays (Plaintiff or Defendant)
                                                              i.      History
                                                            ii.      Tort doctrine
                                                          iii.      Social policy
c.       Preponderance of the Evidence: standard applied which requires that it be shown that it is more likely than not that the act was committed
2.      Liability
a.       Absolute: if the injury happened, the defendant is completely liable
b.      Joint: parties are each liable up to the full amount of the relevant obligation
c.       Several: parties are liable for only their respective obligations
d.      Joint and several: plaintiff may recover all the damages from any of the defendants regardless of their individual share of the liability
e.       Market share: apportions liability to the amount of risk each defendant posed to society. The ultimate goal is the percent of risk created by the defendant is recovered by the plaintiff.
3.      Cases
a.      Weaver v. Ward
                                                              i.      D shot P during military exercise by accident
                                                            ii.      D is liable because he caused the injury
b.      Brown v. Kendall
                                                              i.      D and P’s dogs were fighting, D tried to break it up and accidentally injured P in the process
                                                            ii.      Ordinary standard of care within the circumstances is the standard
c.       Hammontree v. Jenner
                                                              i.      D suffered from seizure disorder and crashed car into D’s store causing damage
                                                            ii.      Negligence is the standard for determining causation under these circumstances
d.      Langan v. Valicopters, Inc.
                                                              i.      D hired to spray crops and accidentally sprays P’s organic crops, ruining them
                                                            ii.      D has right to crop dust so no liability due to negligence, but still has to pay because engaging in abnormally dangerous activity (cost/benefit or fairness consideration)
 
 
 
 
 
 
   II.            Intentional Torts
 
1.      The Basics
a.       Plaintiff must prove
                                                              i.      Act: volitional movement on D’s part
                                                            ii.      Intent: D desired, substantially certain, or transferred
                                                          iii.      Causation: conduct of D must be a substantial factor in bringing about the injury
                                                          iv.      No Consent: P did not agree to act
2.      Intent in General
a.       Intent: D desires the result or knows with a substantial certainty that it will occur
                                                              i.      Desire: intent satisfied if D desired the consequence of acts or desired to perform the action
                                                            ii.      Substantial certainty: intent satisfied when D is substantially certain that the act will cause a particular effect, even if undesired
b.      Mistake: if D intends to do an act that would constitute a tort, mistake is not a defense
                                                              i.      Intent for injury not required:
1.      Relevant intent is intent to bring about the consequences that are the basis for the tort
2.      Person may be liable for an unintended injury (e.g. A pushes B and B breaks his arm. The conduct that gave rise to the injury, the pushing, was intended by A so A is liable for B’s injury).
c.       Transferred Intent: intent to commit one tort satisfies the intent requirement for another tort + intent to commit a tort against one victim transfers to any other victim
d.      Respondient Experior Rule
                                                              i.      Employers are liable for negligence of employees but not for intentional torts
                                                            ii.      Employers are not liable when employee is negligent if employee is not acting within scope of employment
                                                          iii.      Employers can be liable for intentional tort when
1.      Job is physical (bouncer)
2.      Action is policy supported by employer
e.       Cases
                                                              i.      Garratt v. Dailey (intent)
1.      D, a child, pulled a chair out from under P, an older woman, and broke her hip
2.      An actor must know to a substantial certainty that contact will result to meet intent requirement (here, P hitting the ground), even if the contact is not desired.
                                                            ii.      Vosburg v. Putney (mistake)
1.      In a school, D kicks P’s leg during class and P ends up losing leg due to a medical condition
2.      D was liable for injury because kick was intentional and not consented to within context of classroom (wasn’t supposed to be doing that and had no reason to)
3.      “Thin Skull” Rule: even if an injury is not foreseeable or intended, the D is still liable for the injury, D takes his victim how he finds him
3.      Battery
a.       Battery: an act intended to cause and causing unconsented to contact
                                                              i.      Dignitary tort: offends someone’s autonomous personhood by unwanted, physical contact
                                                            ii.      Harmful or offensive because the harm is the touch:
1.      Harmful – causes injury, pain, or disfigurement
2.      Offensive – must be considered offensive by a reasonable person in the circumstances
b.     

ne of several illegal immigrants working and allege false imprisonment because they were locked in the stores during shifts and threatened with deportation
2.      Case was sent to jury to determine, but note the standard is if a reasonable person in the circumstances would feel imprisoned, and Wal-Mart knows the immigrants are a vulnerable population.
                                                            ii.      Whittaker v. Sanford
1.      P was falsely imprisoned on a yacht by D. P wanted to leave, but D had control of the only means of egress – a rowboat to shore.
2.      Escape means must be reasonable, and P had four children on the boat with her, so swimming ashore was not reasonable (imprisonment can result when defendant has a legal duty to act/provide escape)
                                                          iii.      Dupler v. Seubert
1.      P in D’s office being fired
2.      P imprisoned by D by implied threat. P feared for her safety if she did not stay to talk to D. Court assessed tone of voice and conduct of D to determine if the threat was legitimate and P was falsely imprisoned.
                                                          iv.      Parvi
1.      D officers stuffed P into police car, who resisted. D’s then drove P to a cemetery and left him there. When P woke up, he wandered into the street and was hit by a car.
2.      Court found that P could recover for false imprisonment because he resisted the arrest (false imprisonment) at the time, even though he did not remember it later on.
6.      Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
a.       IIED: an extreme and outrageous act by D intending to cause, or through recklessness, causes P to suffer severe emotional distress
                                                              i.      Conduct must be intentional or reckless
1.      Plaintiff must prove that the defendant intended to cause severe emotional distress or acted with reckless disregard as to whether the plaintiff would suffer severe distress
2.      Even if mental distress was not intentional, the defendant is liable if he acted with a reckless disregard of a high degree of possibility of stressful result
                                                            ii.      Conduct must be extreme and outrageous:
1.      Outrageous – conduct that transcends all bounds of decency tolerated by society
2.      If D knows of P’s sensitivity and causes P severe distress, D may be liable
                                                          iii.      Must be a causal connection between the wrongful conduct and emotional distress