Does Farmer have any claim(s) for damages against Pilot based on intentional tort? Discuss.
Rule of Law :
The essential requirements of intentional torts are the elements of intent, injury, damages and causation. The concept of 'intention' does not require that Defendant (D) know that his/her act will cause harm to the Plaintiff (P), but must know with substantial certainty that their act will result in certain outcomes (landing of the plane on the P’s land). To successfully make a claim against D, P must prove that D acted with purpose when he landed the plane on P’s property, that the act was intentional and it lead to the injury suffered by P (loss of land and crops) and the resulting damages to P’s land and crops. It is clear from the facts that that Pilot had clear intent to land the plane on Farmer’s property, that there was injury, that were damages and that it was the act of the Pilot’s that caused the damages. Farmer (Plaintiff - P) may have three claims against the Pilot (Defendant – D) for damages based on intentional tort. The potential claims will be on the basis of : a)
Trespass to Land - Did Pilot trespass on Farmer’s land ? b)
Trespass to Chattel - Did Pilot trespass on Farmer’s chattel (property i.e. crops) ? c)
Trespass to Conversion - Did Pilot commit a conversion of Farmer’s property ? Defenses
From the Pilot’s perspective, the potential applicable defense privileges that the courts provide to the Defense such that they are not held responsible for their act, are in the form of i) consent, ii) self defense, iii) defense of others (good samaritan) or iv) necessity. Though there are additional defense privileges available under the rule of law, the facts of this case lean towards exploring the said defenses. i.
Consent : In the absence of consent from the property owner, consent can be implied by law (in the cases of emergency, when consent cannot be obtained in person) or consent can be implied in fact (when a consent cannot be obtained, but a reasonable person would believe that the property owner would give consent under the same specific conditions). ii.
Self defense as a defense would be applicable in the circumstances when a threat is imminent and the subsequent act is reasonable. It is an affirmative defense, which would absolve D of all liability. iii.
Defense of others is a privilege to act when the ‘other’ person being defended has the right to self-defense and a privilege to act, and the force being used by D is acceptable under the reasonable force rule. iv.
Necessity : A necessity defense requires the following elements: (1) D acted to avoid a significant risk of harm; (2) no adequate lawful means could have been used to escape the harm; and (3) the harm avoided was greater than that caused by breaking the law. Some jurisdictions also require that the harm must have been imminent and that the action taken must have been reasonably expected to avoid the imminent danger. The necessity defense could either be a ‘public’ necessity or a ‘private’ necessity. A public necessity is a full defense under the doctrine of ‘public good’ and D is not held liable for any damages. A private necessity is a not a viable defense and maybe considered a limited defense since the act that created the tort was for the benefit of D or a third party. As a result, D may not be liable for the trespass, but is liable for the damages resulting from the trespass. The fact that the intent was driven from necessity, does not change the fact that the landing of the plane on Farmer’s property was intentional, voluntary and without the consent of the Farmer. However, the based on the facts, Pilot has a potential defense in the form of necessity. Analysis
Did Pilot trespass on Farmer’s land ?
Trespass to land is defined as a person’s unlawful entry onto another’s land. There are five elements which the plaintiff must show to make prima facie case : I.
Intrusion on P’s land was a volitional act by D.
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