THE LAW OF TORTS
·Definition: A civil or private wrong, which is legally enforceable.
·Torts are often associated w/ harm to person, integrity, property.
·Purpose: to compensate π for unreasonable harm.
·3 categories of tort law based on nature of D’s conduct:
1) Intentional torts 2) Negligence ie carelessness 3) Strict Liability
Case of Thorns – man trespasses on other man’s field to gather trimmed thorns. π
– shows early tradition of strict liability
Weaver v. Ward – soldier shoots another during training. π
– issue: Is D guilty if injury was unintended and as a result of abnormal
circumstance ie military training?
– liability automatic except if a) D w/out fault b) inevitable.
– shows strict liability beginning to weaken; negligence entering.
– burden of proof for showing pure accident still on D however.
Brown v. Kendall – 2 dogs fighting, D attempts to separate and wounds π. D
– Issue: Is D guilty if injury was unintended?
– If lawful act and unintentional ÙD is not liable unless w/out due care.
– inevitable = result that D could not have avoided by use of ordinary care.
– burden of proving fault now on π.
Nota Bene (NB) – Strict Liability (liability w/out fault) vs. Liability w/ fault vs.
the middle ground – Liability w/ ordinary care.
· 7 intentional torts can be separated into those committed against person and property.
· 4 intentional torts against person =
Battery, Assault, False Imprisonment, Infliction of Emotional Distress.
· 3 intentional torts against property =
Trespass to Land, Trespass to Chattels, Conversion.
Restat 3d Definition: A person acts w/ the intent to produce a consequence if:
a) The person has the purpose of producing that consequence; or
b) The person knows to a substantial certainty that the consequence will ensue from
Vosburg v. Putney – D kicks π in wounded leg while in school. π
– Issue: Is D guilty if act was intended but resulting harm was unintended?
– if intended act is unlawful Ù the intention to commit it must necessarily
– The wrongdoer is liable for all consequences resulting from the
intended act, even if they are unintended, not substantially certain or
foreseeable. ie intent to harm is irrelevant.
– The court reasoned if this had occurred on the playground and not in the
classroom, consideration would be due since D would have been
performing usual boyish activities and had no intent to harm π.
Beauchamp v. Dow Chemical – Chemist sues employer for exposure to Agent
– Issue: defining “intentional” – worker is exempt from Worker’s Comp
only if employer had an “actual intent to injure”; “substantially certain”
would suffice, but “substantial likelihood” will no
efendant intended to make the contact.
If πs were required to establish that D intended the exact injury that
ensued, this would be an unfair burden.
Brzoska v. Olson – Patients sue estate of HIV+ dentist. π/affirm, reverse, remand
– Can offensive contact be found after the fact?
– Discovering offensive nature of contact after the event does not preclude
– Contact must be offensive to dignity of reasonable, ordinary person, so
unreasonable AIDS phobia cannot be basis for recovery.
Dickens v. Puryear – D severely beats π then warns him to leave state. π
– Issue: With SOL limiting offenses where does a threat of future harm fit?
– Battery = infliction of blow; Assault = apprehension of imminent
contact; Infliction of Emotional Distress = threat of future harm.
NB – Distinction btwn liability for intentional torts and negligence: negligence D
will generally be held liable for those consequences that were at least foreseeable;
with intentional torts, D will be liable for virtually every result stemming directly
or indirectly from his conduct however unlikely the result may have seemed.