Introduction to Law of Torts
Strict liability |
right to be free from bodily harm
right to enjoy a good reputation
right to conduct business with out wrongful
right to have property free from
A Tort is
interference with another’s right by:
The injured party
sues the defendant or tort feasor.
Brought in civil court
Not necessarily a crime
Standard – preponderance of the evidence (i.e. more
likely than not)
Assault – threaten to strike or harm resulting in
Battery – unlawful, unprivileged touching
Trespass – wrongful injury or interference with
Nuisance – anything that interferes with another’s
enjoyment of property
Interference with contract
Invasion of privacy
Misuse of legal procedure
Infliction of emotional distress
The Elements of an
An intentional tort.
Tort was the proximate cause of injury.
Injury caused damages.
The Intentional Torts
strike or harm with a weapon or physical movement, resulting in
Assault and battery. Although the
torts of assault and battery often occur in conjunction with one
another, they are separate legal claims. A claim of battery involves
intentional conduct that constitutes a “harmful or offensive contact
with a person.” A claim of assault arises from conduct that is
intended to and has the effect of exciting an immediate apprehension
of a harmful or offensive contact.
So, for example, employees who are
subjected to unwanted touching can bring battery claims; employees
who fear such unwelcome contact by a co-worker or supervisor can
assert assault claims. And either claim could include an additional
underlying harassment claim
unprivileged touching of another person.
or interference with the property of another.
interferes with the enjoyment of life or property.
Interference with contractual
causing one person not to enter or to break a contract with another.
or deceptive practice done with intent to injure another.
taking or borrowing of personal property of another for the use of
restraint of a person, whether in prison or otherwise.
Wrongful act of
injuring another s reputation by making false statements.
Defamation. Defamation involves the
unprivileged publication of false and injurious information to one
or more third parties. The tort of defamation consists of two
sub-parts: libel, which is the written publication of defamatory
statements, and slander, which is the oral publication of defamatory
Defamation claims frequently are
asserted by employees who believe that their employer disseminated
false information about them to other employees or to a prospective
employer. These claims often arise when an employer discusses an
employee’s performance, or the reasons for an employee’s
person's right to be left alone.
Infliction of emotional distress
recklessly causing emotional or mental suffering to others.
Intentional infliction of emotional
distress. A claim for assault requires apprehension of an immediate
injury, but a person who has been threatened and suffers
apprehension of a future injury may be able to bring a successful
claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
An employer may be subject to
liability for intentional infliction of emotional distress
(sometimes referred to as the tort of outrage where its extreme
or outrageous conduct; intentionally or recklessly causes a person
to suffer; severe emotional distress.
Not surprisingly, employees
subjected to harassment, retaliation or other conduct that violates
federal, state or local anti-discrimination laws often assert
emotional distress claims. However, such a claim also can be brought
as a separate lawsuit predicated on intolerable working conditions,
even absent the assertion of statutory-based discrimination claims
under federal, state, or local law.
The doctrine of
strict liability applies to ultra-hazardous activities that involve
a great risk to people and property. The risk is so significant that
amount of care will eliminate that risk. (i.e. wild animals,
explosives, highly flammable liquids)
Also, applies to product liability – cases in which
people are injured from defects in products. The firm that
manufactures a product is liable regardless of the fault for
injuries to users of the product if a defect in one of those
not apply if company does not actively engage in the sale of that
statutes preserve the rights of third parties affected by the
death of a person to bring a lawsuit. Punitive damages relate to
gross negligence and reckless disregard goes beyond compensation and
allows the plaintiff to attack company profits.
NEGLIGENCE: third and
most common tort
Elements of Negligence
to recover on a negligence claim, Plaintiff must show:
1) Duty of Care a reasonable responsibility to act or
not to act
of Duty the reasonable person test. (not equal to logical, normal
3) Proximate Cause
without breach the result would not have occurred. (not equal to
This is one of the
hardest doctrines in torts. We talked about actual cause, including
“but for” causation and the substantial factor test.
Proximate cause consists of both cause in fact and
foreseeability. To establish cause in fact, a Plaintiff must
show (1) the defendant's acts or omissions were a substantial factor
in bringing about his injuries, and (2) the injuries would not have
occurred but for the defendant's acts or omissions.
To establish foreseeability, a plaintiff must show
that the defendant, as a person of ordinary intelligence, should
have anticipated the dangers his negligent acts or omissions created
4) Actual harm (i.e. physical
injury, property damage)
5) Measurable Damages - a financial
loss ( may include pain and suffering)
Defenses to Negligence
1.Contributory Negligence If
plaintiff's own negligence helped cause the injuries, then the
plaintiff loses the lawsuit.
2. Comparative Negligence (Adopted by
most states) Plaintiff's recovery is reduced by the percent of his
or her negligence.
Assumption of Risk.
If defendant can
show that the plaintiff knew of the risk and still took the chance
of being injured, may claim this defense to bar plaintiff’s