Legal Wrongs And Their Remedies


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Legal Wrongs And Their Remedies

  1. 1. Chapter 10: Torts: Legal Wrongs and Their Remedies David Baumer, Spring 2003
  2. 2. Classification of Torts <ul><ul><li>A tort is a non-contractual interaction in which the defendant wrongfully harms the plaintiff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Torts could be </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>intentional --def. knew or should have known his actions would harm the pl. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>due to negligence or lack of reasonable care </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>evaluated under a strict liability standard--for certain dangerous activities defs. are liable w/o fault for the harm they cause </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Punitive damages are only recoverable if the tort is intentional or nearly so </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Def. must have had a reckless disregard for safety--driving school kids while utterly drunk </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Damages in Tort Cases <ul><ul><li>Compensatory damages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Theory is to compensate the def. for his or her losses </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Economic losses --present value of lost future income and FMV of property </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pls. can recover for pain and suffering , mental anguish and depression </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Impossible to fully compensate wrongful death pls. but theory often used is to replace income to survivors </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Punitive Damages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Theory is to punish def. and deter others from doing the same thing </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Intentional Torts: Assault, Battery and False Imprisonment <ul><ul><ul><li>Def. is liable for an intentional tort if the injury suffered by the pl. was not intended </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Def. is liable for wrongful death even though he may have been aiming to maim the pl. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assault and battery often occur together, but not always </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assault occurs when intentional actions of the def. place the pl. in apprehension of immediate harmful or offensive contact </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Battery takes place when the def. intentionally contacts the pl. in a harmful or offensive manner without justification </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Intentional Torts: Assault, Battery and False Imprisonment <ul><ul><ul><li>False imprisonment occurs when the def., without justification, intentionally confines the pl. within boundaries set by the def. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Defenses </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In the past companies have been able to escape liability for intentional torts of employees by claiming that such actions were not authorized </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Employers have been found liable if at the time of intentional torts, the employee was working on the job and advancing the interests of the employer </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Employers are more likely liable if at the time of the tort they had prior notice that this employee was aggressive </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Intentional Torts: Defenses <ul><ul><ul><li>Employers are liable for intentional torts if they aid and abet these employees </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Employers can be liable if they were negligent in hiring </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E.g., failure to get background checks on camp counselors who then molest some children </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Other defenses-- </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For assault and battery defs. are allowed to use reasonable force under the circumstances to defend themselves, their property and others who are attacked </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For most batteries in sports contests the def. can use consent by the pl . as a defense </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Intentional Torts: Defenses <ul><ul><li>Shopkeepers are often defs. in false imprisonment suits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The shopkeeper, or its security, mistakenly detains a suspected shoplifter </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most states have passed statutes that give a defense to shopkeepers who </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>had probable cause to believe the pl. was shoplifting </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>and behaved reasonably in detaining the pl. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pl. was not needlessly embarrassed </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pl. was not detained for an excessively long period </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress <ul><ul><ul><li>Intentional infliction of emotional distress </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Intentional actions that are </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>extreme and outrageous behavior that result in </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>severe emotional distress </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This tort has been used against bill collectors and practical jokers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Increasingly it is being used against companies who fail to curb sexual harassment </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Statute of limitations for this tort is longer than for ‘64 Civil Rights Act </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Could be used against cyberstalkers </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Invasion of Privacy <ul><ul><ul><li>Any of the following has been held as an invasion of privacy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Intrusion into a person’s solitude --a remedy against stalkers, wiretaps, hackers </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Placing a person in a false light --e.g., doctored photographs </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Public revelation of facts that the public would find repugnant </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Commercial use of someone’s name or likeness </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Must get permission of a celebrity before using the celebrity in a commercial </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Reasonable Expectation of Privacy <ul><ul><li>If a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy , then the law will protect that interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Phone conversations, what happens behind closed doors, trash </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In law public figures (celebrities, politicians, athletes) have a diminished expectation of privacy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Public officials are not entitled to privacy in the manner in which they conduct their official duties </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Misappropriation--of a person’s name or likeness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Akin to trespass to personal property without permission </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Defamation <ul><ul><ul><li>Defamation takes place when the def. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Makes false statements about the pl. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>that are heard or seen by third parties </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>that harm the pl.’s reputation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A publisher of an author who libels someone is equally liable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Newsstands and libraries are not liable for libel unless they know the material they are distributing is libelous </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Defenses to defamation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Truth = def. has the burden of proof to prove what he said was accurate </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Defamation <ul><li>Defenses to defamation suits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Privilege </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Participants in courtrooms and legislative proceedings have absolute privilege </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Qualified privileges exist for credit bureaus </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Federal legislation provides protection if they follow certain procedures when confronted by people who claim they have been defamed </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Job recommendations and evaluations --many states require pls. in these cases to show the employer knowingly gave out false information </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Defamation <ul><ul><li>If the def. is the media and the pl. is a public figure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The pl. has to show legal malice </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Def. knew the statements were false or </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Def. had a reckless disregard for the truth </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The media can protect themselves, from the consequences of their own mistakes by requiring reporters to find two independent sources for their articles </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Fraudulent Misrepresentation <ul><ul><ul><li>Fraud or deceit could be tort </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Five elements </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Misrepresentation of material facts </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Scienter </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Intend to defraud </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reasonable reliance by the pl. on the misrepresentation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Causation between the misrepresentation and the pl.’s damages </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There are numerous defenses: the statements were true, not intentional, pl.’s reliance on the statements was not justified, the misrepresentations did not cause the pl.’s damages </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Wrongful Takings and Intermeddling <ul><ul><ul><li>Conversion </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Exercise of dominion or control over the property of another without justification </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A conversion could be the result of an innocent mistake </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Damages in conversion are equal to the FMV of the property converted </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Conversion could take place with far less than a theft </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Trespass to personal property --intermeddling </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Intentional and wrongful interference with the owner’s possession or use of personal property </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Trespass to Personal Property <ul><ul><li>Damages are equal to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>difference in fair market value before and after the trespass--often not much </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>more recently trespass to personal property has been used against various interference that occurs in cyberspace </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Aggregators interfere with online auctions and have been successfully sued </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>So far suits against Internet reporting of sports contests have not been successful </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Trespass to Real Property <ul><ul><li>Trespass to real property </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Takes place when a person goes onto the land of another without permission or justification </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Applies to intrusions that occur above and below the surface </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Landowners are entitled to airspace over their land to a reasonable level </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Defenses </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Emergency </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Recovery of personal property </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Negligence <ul><ul><li>Defendant owes a duty to pl. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pl. breaches the duty </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pl. is harmed and the actions of the def. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are the proximate cause of the pl.’s injuries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The negligence of the def. is based on a reasonable person standard </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If the def.’s actions fall below that standard then the def. is negligent </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Driving in excess of the speed limit is not acting reasonably </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Proximate Cause <ul><ul><ul><li>Proximate cause is legal causation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ But for” the actions of the def. the pl. would not have been harmed and </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The harm to the pl. was reasonably foreseeable </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Even if the def. was in the wrong he or she is not liable for freak accidents </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Duties of landowners and possessors </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>At CL, landowners have a duty not to create pitfalls for trespassers </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Landowners are liable for creating attractive nuisances--creating risks that foreseeable trespassers (children) could not appreciate </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Landowners and Possessors <ul><ul><li>People who come on your land with your permission are called licensees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You have a duty to warn about known dangers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For business invitees you have a duty to warn </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>about dangers that you knew or should have known about </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Professionals have a duty of care consistent with their profession </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Those that hold themselves out as specialists must according to the standards of the specialty </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Negligence Per Se and Res Ipsa Loquitur <ul><ul><ul><li>In some situations negligence is defined by statute, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Speed limits, safety standards for products </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Res Ipsa Loquitur--the thing speaks for itself </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>When the def. is in control of the instrumentality that causes the harm and </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The harm would not have normally have occurred but for negligence </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Effect of showing res ipsa is that the burden of proof shifts from pl. to def. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E.g., a pedestrian is injured while walking legally next to a construction site and a brick falls on his head </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Defenses in Negligence Suits <ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Superceding or intervening cause </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>After the def. has been negligence an event occurs which causes harm to the pl. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assumption of risk </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pl. is aware of the risk and voluntarily assumes it </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>often defs. have pls. sign waivers so it is obvious that the pl. was aware of the risk </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Contributory negligence </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pl.’s negligence contributed to his harm </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If shown it is a complete defense, but it has been abolished in most states </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Defenses in Negligence Suits <ul><ul><li>Comparative negligence -- </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Percentage of liability by the pl. is subtracted from total damages </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most states require that the def.’s share of the liability or blame exceeds the pl.’s </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good Samaritan Statutes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If a rescuer commits negligence while performing a rescue, he or she is not liable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Unless they are grossly negligent </li></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Strict Liability <ul><li>Torts that fall into the category of strict liability create liability for the def., even though the def. was not at fault </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Two main categories of strict liability torts are: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Unusually dangerous activity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Using dynamite, harboring wild animals, storing hazardous waste </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Product liability </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Manufacturing and design </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Product Liability <ul><li>Product liability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is composed of both tort and contract law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When a seller makes a warranty, the seller creates strict liability for himself </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In tort law, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If you sell a product that has a defect , </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>and the product is the proximate cause of harm to the pl. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>you are strictly liable </li></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Product Liability <ul><li>Product liability is defined in the Restatements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Section 402A (1977 version) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>One who sells a product in defective condition , unreasonably dangerous to the consumer or user, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Or to his property </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is liable for the harm to the pl. if </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The seller is engaged in the business of selling this product, and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The product is expected to reach the consumer in a condition that is substantially unchanged </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is liable to the pl. even though the seller exercised all possible care </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>And there is no privity between the seller and pl. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Product Liability <ul><ul><li>Note that sellers are liable even though they have not handled the product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In general manufacturers are primarily liable for defective products, but retailers and distributors could be liable if the manu. goes bankrupt </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In general, liability is based on a finding of a defect — </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>three types: manufacturing , design , and inadequate warnings </li></ul></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Product Defects <ul><li>Manufacturing defects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Defects that take place because the actual product does not conform to the product design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Someone in the manufacturing process made a mistake </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Manufacturing defects are sometimes based on the consumer expectations test </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Would an ordinary consumer expect the product to operate in this fashion, i.e., bicycles are expected to slow down when the operator applies the brakes </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Design Defects <ul><li>If there is a design defect , then all such products have the defect </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gives rise to class action suits and potentially huge damage awards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Three tests for design defects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Does the design conform to govt. requirements? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is the design at least equal to the industry average in terms of safety? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Does the design pass a cost benefit test, such that any other design would cost far more than the gains in safety </li></ul></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Design Defect <ul><ul><ul><li>The most recent restatement , the Restatement Third of 1998 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Calls for explicitly calls for tradeoffs between safety and cost </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Focus of Restatement Third is on foreseeable risks rather than intended use of the product </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If a use of a product is foreseeable and harmful, the seller should provide a warning </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If a product design fails any one of the tests: govt. regs, industry standards, or risk/safety tradeoffs, it will most likely be judged defective </li></ul></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Inadequate Warnings <ul><ul><ul><li>Sellers must warn about foreseeable risks or else be liable for those who would have heeded such warnings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Note that there is no obligation to warn about obvious risks </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Factors sellers should take into account in deciding whether to provide warnings </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gravity and risks posed by the product </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Content and comprehensibility of the warnings </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Intensity of the expression--should signs be used </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Characteristics of user group </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Defenses <ul><ul><ul><li>Even though sellers of products are strictly liable for product defects there are defenses available </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Misuse of the product </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ignoring warnings </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assumption of risk </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In many cases, these defenses run together </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Those who ignore warnings are assuming the risk </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Other defenses include </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tampering --if the seller can show that the product was safe when it left his hands, it is a defense </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Govt. contractor defense </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>State of the art defense--the risk could not have been known </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Software Products <ul><ul><ul><li>Currently to maintain a case against a seller or licensor of software the buyer or user has to show negligence </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For contract partners, software vendors limit liability and exclude warranties </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Third parties are not bound by contractual agreements </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Third parties can recover if it is foreseeable that negligent development of software will cause risks of harm </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For software products that have large potential impact on health and safety, the negligence standard can become a de facto strict liability standard </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Product Liability Reforms <ul><li>There is much controversy about product liability laws </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some have suggested that product liability be made federal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Others have proposed caps on damages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State of the art defenses have been proposed </li></ul></ul>