Chapters 5 & 6 – (Chapter 6 in book)
Torts and Strict Liability
TORT – “wrong” - Civil action for injury to person/property
Tort law protects a variety of injuries & provides remedies from them. Under tort law, an injured
party can bring a civil lawsuit to seek compensation for a wrong done to a person or a person’s
- Tort Damages: monetary damages that are sought from the offending party. Intended to
compensate the injured party for the injury suffered.
- Wrongful death action: action that can be brought by his/her beneficiaries if a victim of a tort
dies to recover damages from the defendant.
- Punitive Damages: awarded to punish defendant, may be recovered in intentional tort & strict
Categories of torts: (1) intentional torts, (2) unintentional torts & (3) strict liability.
INTENTIONAL TORTS AGAINST PERSONS:
The law protects people from unauthorized touching, restraint or other contact. The law also
protects a person’s reputation & privacy. This is a category of torts which requires that the defendant
possessed the intent to do the act that caused the plaintiff’s injury.
1. Assault – threat of harm; someone does something that causes another person harm. No
touching is required; if victim is afraid suit can be filed. Focuses on victim: is victim fearful
of being harmed.
2. Battery – offensive physical contact. (touching, hitting, & intentional contact)
Victim need not to be aware of the harmful or offensive contact. (Ex. May take
place while victim is asleep).
There does not have to be direct physical contact between the victim & the
perpetrator, as long as injury results.
Assault & battery can happen together but they don’t have to. (Ex: if I hit you
from the back its battery not assault because you never saw it coming.)
Ex of battery include: throwing a rock, shooting an arrow or bullet, knocking off
a hat, pulling a chair out from under someone, & poisoning a drink.
3. False Imprisonment – Intentional confinement or restraint of someone (physically or
action wise) without authority or justification & person’s consent.
Victim may be restrained or confined by physical force, barriers, threats of
physical harm, or the perpetrator’s false assertion of legal authority (i.e. false
Threat of future harm & moral pressure is not considered false imprisonment.
False imprisonment must be complete. Ex. Locking one’s door in a house or an automobile & not letting another person
leave is false imprisonment.
Merchant Protection Statutes (Shopkeeper’s privilege): statutes allow
merchants to stop, detain, & investigate suspected shoplifters without being held
liable for false imprisonment if: (proving these id sometimes difficult)
(1) There are reasonable grounds for the suspicion.
(2) Suspects are detained for only a reasonable time.
(3) Investigations are conducted in a reasonable manner.
4. Misappropriation of Right to Publicity (Tort of Appropriation) – Right to name
Everyone has the right to their own name, face, voice, & manner. If a person or
company wants to use these, they must ask for your permission first.
When someone misuses our own rights (face, name, etc) for commercial gain this
is considered a tort & you can file suit).
Ex. A company that uses a likeness of a famous actress in its advertising without
the actresses’ permission is liable for this tort.
In such cases, plaintiff can recover unauthorized profits made by the offending
party & obtain injunction preventing further unauthorized use of his or her name
5. Invasion of Right to Privacy – Kind of the same; law recognizes each person’s right to
live his or her life without being subjected to unwarranted & undesired publicity.
Ex. If someone takes a naked picture of you in a locker room without your
consent, and posts it on Facebook, it is an invasion of right of privacy.
If a fact is public information, there is no claim to privacy.
6. Defamation – reputation; lying about someone in order to ruin their reputation.
Plaintiff must prove that defendant made an untrue statement of fact about
Must also prove that statement was intentionally or accidentally published (seen
or heard) to a 3 party.
- Libel: false statement that appears in writing or other fixed medium.
(Ex. False statement that appears in a letter, newspaper, magazine,
- Slander: name for oral defamatory statement.
(Ex. Person makes untrue statement of fact about another person to a 3 person.)
- Since we are usually talking about speech, court recognizes 2 types of cases:
Public Officials and Public Figures – public officials/figures cannot
recover for defamation unless they can prove that defendant acted with
- Actual Malice: means that defendant made false statement
knowingly or with reckless disregard of its falsity.
Disparagement (trade libel) – lying about products & services: untrue
statements about a competitor’s products, services, property, or business
- Ex: competitor of Dell computers tells a prospective customer
that “Dell computers always break down”, when in fact the
rarely break down. This is product disparagement.
7. Intentional Misrepresentation – (Fraud or Deceit): wrongdoer deceives another person
out of money, property, or something else of value.
4 elements required to find fraud:
(1) False representation of material fact.
(2) Wrongdoer had knowledge that the representation was false & intended
to deceive the innocent party.
(3) Innocent party relied on misrepresentation.
(4) Innocent party was injured.
- Example: Pg. 115
8. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (tort of outrage) – When a person’s
extreme & outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causes severe mental or
emotional distress to another person. Can be one act or repeated acts.
- Example: a credit collection agency that constantly tells off a debtor for being a
“deadbeat debtor” in front of his family as he is exiting religious services is
outrageous conduct that constitutes intentional infliction of emotional distress.
UNINTENTIONAL TORTS – NEGLIGENCE
Doctrine that says a person is liable for harm that is the foreseeable consequence of his or her actions.
Negligence is defined as “the omission to do something which a reasonable man would do, or doing
something which a prudent & reasonable man would not do.”
- Plaintiff must prove four things:
1. Duty of Care - “Reasonable person”: obligation people owe each other – the duty to not
cause unreasonable harm or risk of harm to each other.
- Example: Each person owes a duty to drive his/her car carefully. Courts decide whether a duty of care is owed by applying a reasonable person
standard. This test determines how an objective, careful, & conscientious person would
have acted in the