Tort Law Outline -- 1L Fall 2012

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Outline on Tort law, first year law school course (1L). Textbook used was Richard Epstein's Cases and Materials on Torts, 9th edition.

Transcript of Tort Law Outline -- 1L Fall 2012

  • Tort Goals -Rationales and Goals (think rights based approach v. tort as instrument approach) 1) Corrective justice = rights based idea, restore the moral balance 2) Civil recourse = focus on what should receive and societal recognition of harm. 3) Deterrence ( discourage self help ) = prevent future torts. 4) Loss Spreading = spread loss to society through / Least cost avoider (avoid accident cheaply) 6) Redress = Tort as populist mechanism/weapon against the man. 7) Allocatively efficient, but not distributionaly fair?

    Battery - Assault [offensive contact or threat of offensive contact] -Intent to Act, -Intent to Act Unlawfully, -Intent to Act with Substantial Certainty of harm. -Intent to Harm. Vosberg v. Putney

    Is a boy1 liable for injuries that resulted when boy1 poked boy2s knee with his foot, under the table in a classroom.

    Yes. Boy1 is liable for battery. Boy1s poking disturbed school decorum, his actions displayed an intent to act unlawfully. Because they were in a classroom NOT a playground there is no implied consent. Tort-feasors take their victims as they find them, egg-shell skull rule, Boy1 is liable for Boy2 losing his leg.

    Garrat v. Dailey Is a boy liable for injuries that resulted when the boy moved old-womans chair while she was sitting down?

    Yes. Boy is liable for battery. Removing the chair creates a situation where it is substantially certain that harm will occur. Intent to act with substantial certainty that harm will occur.

    Mohr v. Williams Intent to Act w/o consent.

    Is a Dr. liable when the patient consented to an operation on patients right ear, however, during the operation, Dr. thought it was more necessary to operate on the left ear.

    Yes. Dr. is liable for battery. Patient did not give express or implied consent for operating on the left ear. People have an absolute right to immunity from physical interference. Even though Dr. did not intend to act unlawfully, he intended to act, and the act is itself unlawful.

    Cantebury v. Spence DUTY TO DISCLOSE

    Is a Dr. liable to a patient where the patient became paralyzed after falling during recovery and Dr. did not disclose the risk of paralysis.

    Yes, Dr. is liable for Battery. People have an absolute right to determine what is done with their body = opportunity to know and evaluate risk Dr. must disclose risk that a reasonable person in patients position would find significant to patients decision. EXCEPT: emergency and when disclosure would threaten the patients well-being.

  • Consent [ Tortfeasor claims Victim allowed the offensive contact ] Types: Express - Implied - Emergency - Transferred.

    Kennedy v. Parrot

    Is a Dr. liable to a patient when during the course of an operation Dr. discovered unknown hazardous cysts and removed them.

    Not liable for battery. This is different from Mohr v. Williams b/c the cysts were in the same vicinity, w/i scope of original operation and consent and unable to obtain pre-operative consent. Also, we can infer implied consent b/c: cost/benefit of putting patient through 2nd operation.

    Schloendorff v. NY Hospital

    Emergency consent = exception to absolute right to determine what is done to body.

    EXCEPTIONS to Consent [ consent is prohibited ] - Protected Classs cant consent. - No Consent to illegal activities. - Mentally ill are strictly liable (caretakers dont consent) Hudson v. Craft Is a boxing promoter

    liable for injuries a boxer suffered during an unlicensed prize fight?

    Yes, promoter is liable for battery. Statute requires licenses for all fights. Goal of statute is to protect boxers are protected class. Boxer cant consent to the type of unlawful activity that the statute is designed to protect boxers from. Majority rule: no consent to unlawful acts. Recovery between two fighters is okay (disincentive fighters from beating up opponent too badly) Minority rule: Volenti / pari delicito (volunteer + equal fault) No recovery for fighters.

    Barton v. Beeline

    Girl consented to a statutory rape and sued company?

    -Company of raping employee is not liable. -No compensation for consenting to illegal activity. - Perverse incentives problem.

    McGuire v. Almy Is Mental-Patient liable for hitting Nurse with table leg?

    Yes, mental patient is liable. Assume that the mentally-ill intended to cause harm. Concerned with perverse incentives, prevent people from fraudulently claiming insanity to avoid tort liability. Induce caretakers to pay closer attention. Also, corrective justice concerns that a man should be liable for the harm he causes.

  • Self Defense Claims [ defenses to a claim of assault or battery ] - Reasonable belief and actions reasonable intended (proportionate force) to provide defense.

    Courvoisier v. Raymond (Police officer sues storeowner for shooting him)

    Is a storeowner liable when the storeowner chased burglars outside and the burglars threw rocks at the storeowner and the storeowner shot a non-burglar (police officer) who approached.

    Not liable for battery. The storeowner could have reasonably believed that the police officer was a burglar and about to assault him.

    Morris v. Platt Is liable for injuries to (bystander), when trying to protect himself from a 3rd. party assailant.

    Not liable for battery to bystander. The s actions were reasonably intended to provide a defense against the assailant, not liable for injuries to a bystander.

    Bird v. Holbrook Is property owner liable to a trespasser when owners spring-gun injured trespasser who entered owners yard to retrieve a ball.

    Yes, property owner is liable for battery to trespasser. There was no notice, unlike spikes on the wall, didnt have chance to calculate danger. The owner cant indirectly do something which he is directly prohibited from doing. If entered the garden while inside, could not have shot him. Self-defense actions must be reasonably intended to thwart the threat, no-indiscriminate spraying.

    Self Defense to Property Reasonable belief that property will be harmed and use necessary, proportionate force. -BUT preferred remedy is go get injunction.

  • Trespass to Land - Trespass to Chattels (1) Trespass to land = physical invasions [ non-physical invasions = Nuisance Doctrine ] (2) Trespass to Chattels = substantial interference with personal (non real) property. - MUST show substantial harm

    -Use Self Help Remedy if the thing is moveable, move it to avoid interference. Dougherty v. Stepp: Unauthorized entry is trespass to property. Rylands v. Fletcher

    Is neighbor1 liable to neightbor2 when neighbor1 built a dam and reservoir on his land; and water escaped flooding neighbor2s land?

    Yes. Neighbor1 is liable for trespass. MAJORITY: Different from negligence cases b/c imposed a uni-lateral risk. didnt know about the risk and was unable to protect against it. Unnatural usage of the land. People that accumulate harmful things should be strictly liable for harm those things cause. Escaping things doctrine. Maxim: Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas Use property in such a way as to not harm anothers property.

    Blondell v. Consolidated

    Is Homeowner liable to Gas-Company for putting governor on the meter?

    Homeowner is liable for Trespass to Chattels but really Land. Gas meter is immoveable, no self help remedy available to Gas-Company.

    - 3 Types of Trespass Regimes Intel v. Hamidi

    Is Hamidi liable for Trespass when Hamidi used Intels computers to send inflammatory messages about Intel?

    Hamidi is not liable. No interference with possession or interest = loss in productivity does not substantially harm (no harm at all) to computer (property). 3-Types of Property Regimes (for Trespass) (1) Forced Closed: obtain advanced permission (2) Forced Open: free range, no barriers. (3) Default open: permission until withdrawn.

  • Nuisance Doctrine [ RST: non-physical invasion of land ]I - Nuisance [ SL regime but really just Global Negligence ] (1) Continuation of action w/ knowledge of annoyance. (2) Unreasonable annoyance: (a) Harm outweighs benefit [BPL Global Negligence] or (b) Harm is super serious, regular negligence wont deter behavior [Pure SL theory].

    Traditional Remedy = injunction (force stop to activity)

    Problem: drawing distinction b/w light pollution from baseball field or Christmas lights? Rogers v. Elliot

    Liable for nuisance to extra sensitive person? Church ringing bell, effecting diease.

    Ringing bell is not nuisance. is extra sensitive persons. Tension w/ Egg-Shell skull rule (take as you find him)

    - Coming to the Nuisance [ impose injunction to eradicate nuisance or not ] Ensign v. Walls (new houses next to dog breeding biz) (1) Majority: cant persist operating the nuisance in the face of changing times. (2) Minority: assumed the risk by moving in, there first, use injunction to prevent more people. Boomer v. Atlantic Cement (cement plant, w/ slight dust damage to but biz is cash money baby). (1) Rule: Impose permanent damages (punch and pay regime) (Forced Necessity Doctrine) Alternate Remedy = purchase injunction, injunction against and compensates for loss.

  • Conversion [ offense to legal interest in property ] Example: A - B - C If: B steals As property = Trespass If: C steals As property from B = Conversion Poggi v. Scott

    Is Bldg-Owner lible to Wine-Owner for Conversion when Wine-Owner rented space from a tenant in the building and Bldg-Owner paid to have basement