Select Page

Widener Law Commonwealth
Robinette, Christopher J.

Professor Robinette


Fall- 2014


TORT – A civil wrong or injury, not arising from a contract

i. Tort v. Crime?

1. Tort = A wrong against a person

a. 2 private persons

b. Plaintiff v. Defendant

c. Punishment is usually money [or insurance company]

2. Crime = A wrong against society as a whole, because it makes society feel a little less safe

a. State or Federal Gov’t v. Defendant

b. Punishment is the goal: probation, fine, jail, death, etc.

ii. Tort v. Contract?

1. Tort

a. No agreement [i.e., “I’ll drive safe, if you drive safe]

i. DUTY imposed on individuals by the state

2. Contract

a. Two or more parties voluntarily exchange [Agreement]



1. Compensation

2. Deterrence

i. Consequences will make you alter your behavior & behave more safely

3. Individualized Justice Theory [Retribution]

i. “You wronged me & I deserve justice.’

1. Civil Recourse Theory

a. Gives Plaintiff opportunity to act against Defendant

2. Corrective Justice

a. Right a wrong

b. Balance the scale of justice v. equity


1. Intentional

i. People behaving badly; bad acts, sometimes by bad people

1. Battery

2. Assault

3. False Imprisonment

4. Trespass to Land

5. Trespass to Chattels

6. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

2. Negligence [majority of Tort Law]

i. “Acting like a fool;” not paying attention; careless acts

3. Strict Liability

i. No fault in strict liability

1. You didn’t do anything wrong BUT for reason of policy, we think you should bear the costs of an injury


vINTENT: Elements

1. Purpose

i. Did the defendant act with a desire to cause a given outcome?


2. Knowledge or Substantial Certainty

i. Did the defendant act with reasonable knowledge that a given outcome was likely to result?

– Was the defendant substantially certain that the given outcome would result?

You will NOT have purpose, without knowledge

– So, start with the analysis on purpose; if no purpose BUT knowledge, you can state:

o “Even if the court doesn’t find purpose, they may find knowledge/substantial certainty.”

v Transferred Intent:

– If a defendant acts with intent to commit a tort against one person, but his actions end up harming someone else, then the defendant’s actions satisfy the intent element even though the defendant was not originall

a plaintiff’s fear of injury, which renders a defendant’s act compensable

– Fear = mental disturbance, fright, humiliation, etc. makes an assault

o You can’t recover for PHYSICAL injuries [that’s battery]

3. False Imprisonment


1. Confinement

2. Without Consent

a. Must be AWARE or HURT by the confinement

3. That is Unjustified

Types of Confinement: ButFuckTheDumbLosers

1.Actual or Apparent Physical Barriers

a. Doors, locks, etc.

2. Overpowering Physical Force OR By Submission to Physical Force

a. Literally holding someone there [using actual force]


b. Not actually holding person, but willing to use physical force & therefore person gives up

3. Threats of Physical Force

a. Can be words, actions, or both

b. Must be a PRESENT threat

4. Other Duress

a. “If you don’t come with me, I will beat up your kids.”

5. Asserted Legal Authority [Law Enforcement Authorities – an arrest]

a. If legal authority is not justified, it is a false imprisonment