What is a TORT?
o Coming from the French word “tort”, meaning “wrong”, a tort is a civil wrong done to a person’s
body, property or reputation, whether the wrong was done (or omitted to be done)
intentionally or otherwise.
Types of Torts
Negligence – careless actions causing harm
Intentional Torts – intentional actions causing harm
Nuisance – a hybrid
Fiduciary Duty – utmost good faith, a concern of professionals
Torts: A Quick History
Arises from medieval English criminal law, as a separate system for compensation for victims of
crimes when the King’s court granted a “writ”.
Onlythntentional torts were recognized initially – “trespass”.
In 20 Century – the rise of negligence as the most important form of tort action: Donoghue v.
Purposes of Torts
Secondarily: specific and general deterrence – a form of social regulation.
Maybe: punishment; allocation of loss among societal actors
In a tort action, the plaintiff wants to prove that the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s harm - she
wants to show that the defendant is civilly responsible for an action causing harm on a balance of
probabilities. This is distinct from criminal guilt which is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a torts case, one looks for fault or liability, NOT GUILT!
Legal responsibility – whether civil or criminal – can arise regardless of the amount of intention or
involvement by the defendant. Levels of Intention
Express intention to do a certain act, or recklessness, or implied intention.
This is the level of intention sought in criminal cases, and for intentional torts.
In general, the law is concerned with the intent to perform an act, not its consequences.
What is recklessness?
o One is reckless when one commits an act, not necessarily wanting to cause specific harm, but
knowing that some harm will result nonetheless.
An act or omission which causes harm, which the actor ought to have known would result in some
harm, even if the harm is not intended.
The harm caused must be reasonabl