Calkins Fall 2015
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE MODERN LAW OF TORTS – DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONCEPT OF “FAULT”
Tort – A civil or private wrong, which is legally enforceable.
Torts are often associated with harm to person, integrity, property.
3 categories of Tort law based on nature of ∆’s conduct:
Strict Liability – when ∆ engages in “ultrahazardous” activity where danger to others exists that can't reasonably be guarded against, then if injury occurs, ∆ will be liable.
Case of Thorns
Man trespasses on other man’s field to gather trimmed thorns.Held for π
Earliest record of a common law court basing its decision on the principle of torts:If an individual suffers damages at the hand of another, that individual has a right to be compensated.
Showed strict liability standard in trespass case
Weaver v. Ward
Soldier shoots another during training.Held for π
Liability is automatic except if a) ∆ completely without fault or b) inevitable
This case shows strict liability beginning to weaken; negligence entering
Burden on proof on ∆
Brown v. Kendall
2 dogs fighting, ∆ attempts to separate them with his cane and wounds π.Held for ∆
Issue – Is ∆ guilty if injury was unintended?
Held – If lawful act and unintentional, ∆ is not liable unless without due care
Burden of proof now on π
ACT + INTENT + CAUSATION + INJURY
7 intentional torts: 4 against person (battery, assault, false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress); 3 against property (trespass to land, trespass to chattel, conversion)
Prima Facie Case – To establish a prima facie case for intentional tort liability, it’s generally necessary that π prove the following: (i) Act by the defendant, (ii) Intent; and (iii) Causation.
Act by Defendant – The “act” requirement for intentional tort liability refers to a volitional movement on defendant’s part.
Chauncey tripped and was falling.To break the fall, he stretched out his hand, which struck Darby.Even though the movement was reflexive, it was dictated by his mind so it is volitional.
Lulu had a seizure and struck Darby: not volitional
– A person acts with the intent to produce a consequence if: (a) the person acts with the purpose of producing that consequence OR (b) the person acts knowing that the consequence is substantially certain to result.
May be either specific or general:
Specific Intent – An actor “intends” the consequences of his conduct if his purpose in acting is to bring about these consequences.
General Intent – An actor “intends” the consequences of his conduct if he knows with substantial certainty that these consequences will result.
Garratt v. Dailey – Boy moves chair out from under old woman.
ISSUE: Is ∆ guilty of battery if he did not intend harm, but may know it was substantially certain?
: Substantially certain of contact (between π and ground) qualifies as intent.
Actor Need Not Intend Injury – A person may be liable even for an unintended injury if he intended to bring about such “basis of the tort” consequences.
Vosburg v. Putney – ∆ kicks π in wounded leg while in school. Held 4 π
ISSUE: Is ∆ guilty if act was intended but resulting harm was unintended?
: If the intended act is unlawful, the intention to commit it must be unlawful and wrongdoer is liable for all consequences resulted from intended act. I.e. Intent to harm is irrelevant, only need intent to act.
Beauchamp v. Dow Chemical – Chemist sues employer for exposure to agent orange. ∆/remand
True intentional tort is one in which the injury as well as the act was intended.
Substantial Certainty – act intended but injury substantially certain.
Worker’s Comp act indicates that it is for accidental and not intentional injuries.Worker is exempt from Worker’s Comp only if employer had an “actual intent” or “substantially certain” intent to injure.
White v. Muniz – (INSANITY) – Nursing home patient with dementia struck nurse.
Insanity is not a defense to intentional torts however it may make it harder to prove the element of intent.
If an insane person is capable of forming intent to do harmful act than he is liable.
Single v. Dual intent model:
Dual intent – actor must intend contact AND harm
Single intent – actor need only intend contact
A intends to push B and does so.B falls and breaks his arm.This conduct gives rise to a cause of action for battery.The “consequences” that are the basis of this tort are harmful or offensive contact to the plaintiff’s person.In this case, the actor intended to bring about harmful or offensive contact to B.Hence, he will be liable even though it was not intended that B break his arm.
Transferred Intent – Applies where the defendant intends to commit a tort against one person but instead (i) commits a different tort against that person, (ii) commits the same tort as intended but against a different person, or (iii) commits a different tort against a different person. In such cases, the intent to commit a tort against one person is transferred to the other tort or to the injured person for purposes of establishing a prima facie case.
Singer v. Marx – ∆ throws stone at one girl and hits the other.
Limitations on Use of Transferred Intent – Transferred intent may be invoked only where the tort intended and the tort that results are both within the following list: Assault, Battery, False imprisonment, Trespass to Land, Trespass to Chattel.
Minors and Incompetents Can Have Requisite Intent – Minors and incompetents will be liable for their intentional torts.
– The result giving rise to liability must have been legally caused by the defendant’s act or something set in motion thereby. The causation requirement will be satisfied where the conduct of defendant is a substantial factor in bringing about the injury.
INTENTIONAL TORTS TO THE PERSON
Prima Facie Case – To establish a prima facie case for battery, the following elements must be proved:
An act by the defendant which brings about harmful or offensive contact to the plaintiff’s person;
on the part of the defendant to bring about harmful or offensive contact to the plaintiff’s person; and
Harmful or Offensive Contact – Contact is harmful if it causes actual injury pain or disfigurement. Contact is offensive if it would be considered offensive to a reasonable person and that person has not expressly or impliedly consented to it.
Meaning of “Plaintiff’s Person” – For purposes of a battery, anything connected to the plaintiff’s person is viewe
art of the defendant to confine or restrain the plaintiff to a bounded area; and
Sufficient Methods of Confinement or Restraint – Physical barriers, Physical Force (against person, family member or property like purse), Direct/Indirect threats of force, Failure to Provide adequate means of escape, Invalid use of legal authority (false arrests)
Insufficient forms of confinement or restraint – moral pressure, future threats.
Awareness of Imprisonment – necessary in most cases unless injured by confinement.
Bounded Area – plaintiff’s freedom of movement in all directs must be limited.
– Plaintiff’s confinement must have been legally caused by the defendant’s act or something set in motion thereby, either direct or indirect.
Transferred Intent – applies to false imprisonment.
No Requirement of Damages
Intentional infliction of Emotional Distress
Prima Facie Case – To establish a prima facie case for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the following elements must be proved:
An act by defendant amounting to extreme and outrageous conduct;
Intent on the part of defendant to cause plaintiff to suffer severe emotional distress or recklessness as to the effect of defendant’s conduct;
Extreme and Outrageous Conduct – ∆ intentionally “shocks” the π but there is no physical injury or threat thereof. To protect against potential abuses, the courts will limit liability for this tort to those situations where “outrageous conduct” on the part of the defendant is proved.
Outrageous Conduct – conduct that transcends all bounds of decency
– ∆ liable for intentional conduct but also for reckless conduct such as acting in reckless disregard of a high probability that emotional distress will result.
– The defendant’s conduct must have proximately caused the plaintiff’s emotional distress.
Intent/Causation Requirements in Bystander Cases – to collect, π generally required to show the following:
The plaintiff was present when the injury occurred to the other person
The plaintiff was a close relative of the injured person; and
The defendant knew that the plaintiff was present and a close relative of the injured person.
Actual Damages Required – actual damages are required but it is not necessary to prove physical injuries to recover. It is necessary to establish severe emotional distress.
Dickens v. Puryear – ∆ severely beats π then warns him to leave the state or he will kill him.
SOL expired for battery charge, π files assault complaint.
: Threat was not immediate for assault but court held for π on intentional infliction of emotional distress charge.