Brill Torts Outline

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Torts Outline- Brill
Fall 2001

Overview:

*What is a tort? A civil wrong other than a breach of contract for which the law provides a remedy. *Purposes of Tort law:
Deter wrongful
Encourage socially responsible behavior
Restore injured parties to their original condition
Peaceful means

Intentional Torts

I. Intent
a. Definition—(1) voluntary acts for the purpose of causing [the essential element of the tort] OR (2) voluntary acts with knowledge to a substantial certainty that [the essential element of the tort] will result. i. For battery, the defendant must have acted with the intent to cause a harmful or offensive touching to plaintiff or some logical extension of plaintiff's person. ii. For assault, the defendant must have intended to cause the plaintiff a reasonable belief that plaintiff was about to immediately suffer a battery. iii. For false imprisonment, the defendant must have intended to confine the plaintiff within some boundaries, from which plaintiff could not reasonably escape. iv. For trespass, defendant intentionally crossed the boundaries of plaintiff's land. v. For trespass to chattels and conversion, the intent factor was identical; the two torts overlap. Thus, for both of these torts, the defendant had to intend to assert dominion or control over plaintiff's chattel. The completed tort would be trespass to chattels if the exercise of dominion or control resulted in harm to the chattel or if it caused the interference with plaintiff's use of the chattel for an unreasonable length of time. The completed tort would be conversion if the defendant's assertion of dominion or control resulted in damage or interference with plaintiff's use of the chattel of such a serious nature that defendant was required to pay the full market value of the chattel. b. Not sufficient to show that a certain result might “occur”, “likely to”, “probably will”, or “highly probable”.

c. Instead, D must either have had the purpose or subjective desire to cause the result or the defendant must have known to a substantial certainty that the result would occur.

d. Children: may be held liable if old enough and subjectively intelligent enough to formulate the requisite purpose or knowledge; very small children would not be found capable of formulating intent.

e. Insane Persons: may be held liable if a sane person in the same circumstances would be found to have had a purpose to cause the tort in question or to have known to a substantial certainty that the gist of the tort in question would occur; no inquiry will be made to see whether an ill mind was the stimulus for the insane person’s actions and whether the person could have prevented the act from occurring; this is a policy decision not a logical decision.

f. Mistake of Fact: will not negate one’s intent; if one acts for the purpose of committing what would otherwise be one of the intentional torts, but does so under a mistaken notion, which if true would justify the action taken, the defendant is still responsible. (1) Ex. A shoots B’s dog, reasonably believing it was a wolf, A is liable to B, assuming B has not wrongfully induced the mistake. Ransom v. Kitter. Mistake of fact as to identity did not negate his intent to shoot the thing.

g. Transferred Intent: a fiction created by the courts which allows a defendant’s intent to commit one of the five common intentional torts (battery, assault, false imprisonment, trespass to chattels, trespass to land) to be transferred to supply a missing intent element (when the defendant causes the other elements of one of these torts to the one aimed at or any other person). (1) Rule 1: intent to commit one tort satisfies the intent requirement for the other tort. (2) Rule 2:...
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