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HELP COLLEGE OF ARTS AND TECHNOLOGY

IN COLLABORATION WITH
SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY
____________________________________________
BUSINESS LAW [BUS 206]

LECTURE 13

TORT LAW

INTENTIONAL TORT
WHAT IS A TORT?

A tort is committed when [i] a duty owed by one person to another [ii] is breached and
[iii] proximately causes [iv] injury or damage to the owner of a legally protected
interest

Examples assault and battery, automobile accidents, professional malpractice and


product liability

Injuries may be inflicted intentionally, negligently or without fault (strict liability)


Same conduct may and often does constitute both a crime and a tort

Intent in tort law does not require a hostile or evil motive rather denotes either
that the actor desires to cause the consequences of his act or that he believes that
those consequences are substantially certain to result from it
WHAT IS TORT LAW?

Civil liability involuntarily assumed as imposed by law

Gives persons redress from civil wrongs or injuries to their person, property and
economic interests

Objectives [1] to compensate persons who sustain harm or loss resulting from
anothers conduct [2] to place cost of that compensation only on those parties who
should bear it [3] to prevent future harms and losses

Summary reallocates losses caused by human misconduct

Primarily common law

HARM TO THE PERSON

Law provides protection against intentional harm to the person

Primary interests protected by these torts are freedom from bodily contact (by the tort
of battery), freedom from apprehension (assault), freedom from confinement (false
imprisonment) and freedom from mental distress (infliction of emotional distress)

Entitle the injured party to recover damages for bodily harm, emotional distress, loss
or impairment of earning capacity, reasonable medical expenses
(a) Battery

An intentional infliction of harmful or offensive bodily contact

May consist of contact causing serious injury such as a gunshot wound or a blow to
the head with a club

May involve contact causing little or no physical injury such as knocking a hat off of a
persons head or flicking a glove in anothers face

Kissing another without permission would constitute a battery


(b) Assault

Intentional conduct by one person directed at another that places the other in
apprehension of imminent (immediate) bodily harm or offensive contact

Usually committed immediately preceding a battery, but if the intended battery fails,
the assault remains

Principally a mental rather than a physical intrusion

Damages may include compensation for fright and humiliation

If you do not give me your book, I will break your arm constitutes an assault

HARM TO THE PERSON (contd)

(c) False Imprisonment


Or false arrest is the intentional confining of a person against her will within fixed
boundaries if the person is conscious of the confinement or is harmed by it

Merely obstructing a persons freedom of movement is not false imprisonment so long


as a reasonable alternative exit is available

May be brought about by physical force, by the threat of physical force (both express
and implied), by physical barriers or by force directed against the plaintiffs property

Damages may include compensation for loss of time, physical discomfort,


inconvenience, physical illness and mental suffering
(d) Infliction of Emotional Distress

One of the more recently recognised torts

One who by extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causes


severe emotional distress to another

Example placing a rattlesnake in anothers bed as a practical joke, sexual


harassment on the job and outrageous, prolonged bullying tactics employed by
creditors or collection agencies attempting to collect a debt
Defenses to Intentional Torts
(i) Consent if one consents to conduct resulting in damage or harm to his own
person, dignity, property or economic interests, no liability will generally attach to the
intentional infliction of injury negates the wrongfulness of the Act
(ii) Privilege (a) self defense to enable an individual to protect himself against
tortious interference an individual may inflict or impose what would otherwise
constitute battery, assault or false imprisonment (b) defense of property

HARM TO THE RIGHT OF DIGNITY

Law also protects a person against intentional harm to his right of dignity
Protection includes a persons reputation, privacy and right to freedom from
unjustifiable litigation
(a) Defamation

False communication that injures a persons reputation by disgracing him and


diminishing the respect in which he is held

Example publication of a false statement that a person had committed a crime or


had a loathsome disease

Beckman V. Dunn (1980) a communication is defamatory if it tends to harm the


reputation of another so as to lower him in the estimation of the community or deter
third persons from associating or dealing with him, and necessarily involves the idea
of disgrace

Burden of proof on the plaintiff to prove the falsity of the defamatory statement

Libel if a defamatory communication is handwritten, typewritten, printed\, pictorial or


in another medium with like communicative power, such as a television or radio
broadcast

Slander if it is spoken or oral

Defenses privilege immunity from tort liability granted when the defendants
conduct furthers a societal interest of greater importance than the injury inflicted upon
the plaintiff

NEGLIGENCE
WHAT IS NEGLIGENCE?
Involves conduct that creates an unreasonable risk of harm
Basis of liability the failure to exercise reasonable care, under given
circumstances, for the safety of another person or his property, which
failure causes injury to such person or damage to his property, or both
Action for negligence consists of five (5) elements:
[i] Duty of care that a legal duty required the defendant to conform
to the standard of conduct established for the protection of others
[ii] Breach of duty that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable
care
[iii] Factual cause that the defendants failure to exercise
reasonable care in fact caused the harm the plaintiff sustained
[iv] Harm that the harm sustained is of a type protected against
negligent conduct and
[v] Scope of liability that the harm sustained is within the scope
of liability which historically has been referred to as proximate cause

STRICT LIABILITY
WHAT IS STRICT LIABILITY?

Liability for non-intentional and non-negligent conduct


Defenses to Negligence & Strict Liability

Contributory Negligence failure of a plaintiff to exercise


reasonable care for his own protection, which in a few states
prevents the plaintiff from recovering anything

Comparative Negligence damages are divided between the


parties in proportion to their degree of negligence; applies in almost
all States

Assumption of Risk plaintiffs express consent to encounter a


known danger, some States still will apply implied assumption of the
risk