The Law of Torts by jennyyingdi


What is a Tort?


 A tort is a private wrong committed by one
  person against another.
   Interference with another person’s rights.
   However…such an offense does not call upon
    government to punish wrongdoers.
 So then…what is the difference
 between a crime and a tort?
  Crimes harm not only specific individuals, but
   also the general welfare.
  Torts lead the wronged party to try and
   recover money as compensation for the loss
   or injury suffered.

 Can a single action, such as
 murder, be both a tort and a crime?
  You tell me!
O.J. Simpson Case Questions…
1.   Who are the parties involved in the case?
2.   Describe the issue that the court must
     decide; what is the nature of the case?
3.   What is the penalty or remedy being sought
     in the case?
4.   What must the person bringing the case
     prove to win?
5.   Why do these cases not constitute double
                     Tort Law
 States that all people are entitled to certain
  rights simply because they are members of a
  society, such as:
   Right to be free from bodily harm
   The right to enjoy a good reputation
   Right to conduct business without unwarranted
   The right to own property free from damage or
               Real or Fake…You Decide!
 A 13-year-old boy from Staten Island -- who is now 5 feet 4
  inches tall and 278 pounds -- claims he didn't know that eating
  three-to-four fast food meals a week would add to his girth.
      Real!
 A man is suing a local McDonald's fast food outlet for
  allegedly being too heavy on the black pepper. The lawsuit
  says that a 61-year-old cancer patient, coughed up black
  pepper, sneezed, and suffered a bloody nose after eating a
  "breakfast burrito supersaturated with black pepper." He said
  he can only eat soft foods because of his radiation treatment,
  accuses the restaurant's employees of negligence and seeks
  to recover damages stemming from the physical and mental
  injuries brought on by the peppered burrito.
      Real!
               Real or Fake…You Decide!
 The attorney who sued Clint Eastwood over disability
  accommodations at his hotel near Carmel was himself sued on
  allegations his office bathroom was not wheelchair friendly.
      Real!
 A New Jersey couple is suing the Kellogg Co., as well as
  appliance maker Black & Decker Corp., for $100,000 in
  damages, alleging that a cherry Pop-Tart they put in their toaster
  turned into a blowtorch and burned down their house. The
  couple admitted to leaving their house while the Pop-Tart was
  heating up, despite the warning label on the box advising
  against leaving food unattended in the toaster.
      Real!
 Scott Bender of Philadelphia sued U.S. Airways for negligence,
  claiming he thought the plane he was on had crashed and he
  was dead after the crew left him asleep on the aircraft. It was
  really dark, said his lawyer, and Bender "didn't know if he was
  alive or dead" -- it turned out the former. Now the snoozing
  passenger wants money for mental and emotional anguish.
      Real!
               Real or Fake…You Decide!
 A judge in Germany is suing Coca-Cola, claiming the habit of
  drinking two Cokes a day for many years caused him to develop
  diabetes. He is also suing MasterFoods since he ate lots of candy
  bars that they make -- Mars, Snickers, and Milky Way -- and
  believes labels should have been put on these sugary products
  warning consumers of possible health risks.
      Real!
 A Levittown, Pa., teenager sued her former softball coach for
  $700,000 in damages. She claims that bad coaching cost her a
  college athletic scholarship.
      Real!
 According to the San Antonio Express-News, a dozen students who
  took a Microsoft computer certification course at the Houston
  branch of Southern Methodist University are suing the school,
  contending they were misled the course would be easy. The 12
  enrolled in June 1997 and all failed certification tests that would
  have made them eligible for jobs overseeing Microsoft computer
      Real!
               Real or Fake…You Decide!
 Former "Munsters" television star Al Lewis filed a lawsuit to be
  listed on the ballot for governor in New York as "Grandpa." The
  lawsuit was filed against the New York State Board of Elections
  because he said by not listing him on the ballot as "Grandpa Al
  Lewis" voters would be confused and not cast an informed vote.
      Real!

 "Unfortunately, wacky lawsuits are just the tip of the
  lawsuit abuse iceberg," said Jon Opelt, director of
  Houston's Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. "Junk
  lawsuits waste tax dollars and tie up court time. That
  means the rest of us pay when others use our courts
  for frivolous reasons. What's more, it means people
  with legitimate claims have to wait longer to have
  their case heard."
Partner Activity!
 In pairs, students will locate 3 notices placed
  around school that they feel is meant to reduce
  liability in relation to torts.
               Intentional Torts
 Occurs when a person knows and desires the
  consequences of his/her act.
 The most common intentional torts are:
   Assault & battery
   Trespass
   Nuisance
   False imprisonment
   Defamation
   Invasion of privacy
             Assault & Battery
 2 separate torts.
 May or may not be committed together.
   Assault: one person deliberately leads another person
    to believe that he/she is about to be harmed.
   Battery: involves the unlawful, unprivileged touching
    of another person, even if the physical contact is not
 Must know that the tortfeasor, or the person
  who committed the tort, meant to commit
        Trespass                       Nuisance

 Wrongful damage to             The tort of nuisance is
 or interference with the         anything that interferes
 property (anything you           with the enjoyment of
 own) of another.                 life or property.
   Includes cars, DVDs, CD        Includes loud noises at
    players, purses, wallets,       night, noxious odors, or
    and real property.              smoke or fumes coming
                                    from a nearby house.
False Imprisonment                  Defamation
 Law enforcement             The wrongful act of
  makes an arrest              injuring another’s
  without having a             reputation by making
  probable cause or            false statements.
  warrant.                    Divided into 2
 They can then be sued        categories:
  for false imprisonment,       Libel: a false statement
  or false arrest, is they       in written or printed form.
  make an arrest without        Slander: a false
  meeting the above              statement that is made
                                 orally to a third party.
Invasion of Privacy
      Interfering with a person’s
       right to be left alone,
       including the right to be free
       from unwanted publicity,
       interference with private
        Federal Privacy Act of 1974
        Fair Credit Reporting Act
        Right to Financial Privacy Act
           Defenses to Intentional Torts
   Consent: Where a defendant has the plaintiff's consent to commit
    an act of assault or battery, the plaintiff may not later bring a lawsuit.
     In sports, injuries that result from rule violations that are part of
       ordinary play are unlikely to support a legal action.
   Police Conduct: A police officer is privileged to apply the threat of
    force, or if necessary to apply actual force, in order to make a lawful
      A defendant who suffers injury as the result of reasonable force
       exerted by the police to make a lawful arrest will not be able to
       sustain a lawsuit against the arresting officers for assault or
   Self-Defense: A person can use such reasonable force as may be
    necessary to protect himself.
       Defenses to Intentional Torts
 Voluntary (Mutual) Combat: Where the
  plaintiff voluntarily engages in a fight with
  the defendant for the sake of fighting and
  not as a means of self-defense, the
  plaintiff may not recover for an assault or
  battery unless the defendant beats the
  plaintiff excessively or uses unreasonable
 Defense of Property: Many jurisdictions
  allow the use of some amount of threat or
  force by a person who is seeking to
  protect his or her own property from theft
  or damage.
      However, there is no privilege to use force
       that may cause death or serious injury unless
       the property owner is threatened with death
       or serious injury.
 Provocation: Words alone, no matter how
  insulting or provocative, do not justify an
  assault or battery.
Unintentional Torts
 A person can breach his/her duty in society
  through other ways than by committing an
  intentional tort.
   Negligence: Injury that is caused by a person’s mere
   Strict Liability: Injury caused by an individual’s
    participation in ultrahazardous activity.
          Elements of Negligence
 A plaintiff must prove all of the following
  1.   Duty of care
  2.   Breach of duty
  3.   Proximate cause
  4.   Actual harm
Duty Of Care
 Everyone has a duty to exercise due care all of
  the time.
  What is due care?
 Due care is the amount of care that a
  reasonable person would exercise under the
  What is a reasonable person?
 A reasonable person who takes the precautions
  necessary to avoid harming another person or
  their property.
Can you think of examples of due care that
each of the following people must exercise?:

       A lifeguard at a municipal pool.
         Actively scanning the pool.
       A lumberjack cutting down a tree.
         Yelling “timber” and making sure area is clear.
       An owner of an aggressive dog.
         Keeping dog on leash or fenced in.
       A high school football coach.
         Making sure players do not play injured.
Breach of Duty

 Once you determine due care, you ask, did the
  defendant follow that due care?
   Breach of duty: not exercising the degree of care that
    a reasonable person would exercise in that same
 For example, if the standard of care requires the
  owner of an aggressive dog to keep the dog on
  a leash and the owner does not do so they
  have breached the duty of care.
Proximate Cause
 Proximate cause: “Was the injury to the plaintiff
  foreseeable at the time the defendant engaged in
  unreasonable conduct?”
 Hypo:
     This is Ken Griffey Jr. Ken Griffey likes to practice his swing in his
      living room. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to disaster.

                         One day, while practicing his swing in his
                         living room, Ken loses his grip on the bat.
                         The bat flies into the sitting room and hits
                         his wife’s friend in the head, causing
                         minor injuries.

                         Is there proximate causation?
Actual Harm
 The basic idea of damages is fairly simple: All
  injuries can be reduced to a monetary amount.
  Actual harm: “Did the plaintiff suffer physical injuries,
    property damage, or financial loss?”
 The real difficulty comes in calculating
  damages. For example, it is pretty easy to figure
  out how much a totaled car is worth, but it’s not
  so easy to figure out how much eyesight is
    Betty and Derek are walking to school. Steven
     is driving down the street talking to his friends
         in the backseat. One of Steven’s friends
    screams “Look out!” Steven reacts by turning
   the wheel of his car, which jumps the curb and
     pins Betty’s arm to the wall crushing it. What
  remains of Betty’s arm needs to be amputated.
Q1: How much is Betty’s arm worth?
Q2: Does the answer change if Betty was a concert pianist?
Q3: What if Betty simply wanted to be a concert pianist, but
  wasn’t one yet?
          Defenses to Negligence
    People can defend themselves in a negligence
    suit by eliminating 1 of the 4 elements:
     Owed no duty to the plaintiff.
     Conduct conformed to the reasonable person
     Conduct was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s
     Plaintiff suffered no injuries.
    Defenses to Negligence (cont.)
 Contributory negligence: behavior by the
  plaintiff that helps cause his or her injuries.
   Even if plaintiff contributes to only 1% of their injuries,
    they will not receive a dime!
 Comparative negligence: the amount of the
  plaintiff’s recovery is reduced by the percent of
  his or her negligence.
   50% Rule: the plaintiff is allowed to recover part of the
    award as long as his/her negligence was not greater
    than that of the defendant.
 Assumption of risk: defendant must show the
  plaintiff knew of the risk involved and still took
  the chance of being injured.
   Ex.) cigarette smoking
                    Strictdangerous that the law will
    Some activities are so
  apply neither the principles of negligence nor the
  rules of intentional torts.
 According to strict liability, if these activities injure
  someone or damage property, the people
  engaged in the activities will be held liable,
  regardless of how careful they were and regardless
  of their intent.
     Ex.) using explosives, keeping wild animals, and storing highly
      flammable liquids in densely populated areas.

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