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Week 2

This week's material covers the fundamental information related to a lot of "civil" (non-criminal) lawsuits. This material will cover intentional acts (torts) and unintentional acts (negligence).

The area of Torts is concerned with civil wrongs occurring between individuals and/or other legal entities. Tort law has two main objectives: (i) to offer compensation to the victims of civil wrongs for the loss, damage or injury that they have suffered and the most common remedy for tortious conduct is money, referred to as damages; and (ii) to act as a deterrent in order to reduce the harm caused by making the tortfeasor responsible for providing a remedy.

The area of Negligence is concerned with conduct that falls below the standards of behavior established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risks of harm. A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances.

Introduction to Torts

Introduction: Torts are civil wrongs or offenses against persons or property resulting in some level of injury. There are numerous specific torts that fall into four general categories: (1) unintentional torts, e.g., negligence, (2) intentional torts, e.g., trespass to property, and (3) strict liability, which includes liability for abnormally dangerous activities, e.g., use of explosives, and (4) strict product liability for defective products. The primary goal of tort law is to compensate for damages incurred. Among the types of damages for which an injured party may recover are compensation for property loss or damage, for medical expenses, for loss of earnings capacity, and for pain and suffering; in some cases, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer for a particularly egregious offense. Tort law is based primarily in state case law and statutory law with the Restatement of Torts (2nd) used by courts and legislatures as a guideline.

Intentional Torts/Business Torts

Introduction: Intentional torts are civil offenses in which a wrongdoer (tortfeasor) intentionally commits an act against persons, property or a business that the wrongdoer knew or should have known would result in some level of harm to property, persons, or business. Types of intentional torts against persons include civil assault and battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, invasion of privacy, appropriation, and fraudulent misrepresentation. Intentional torts against property include trespass to land, trespass to personal property, conversion, and disparagement of property. Special business torts are wrongful interference with a contractual relationship, wrongful interference with a business relationship, and disparagement of a product.

Negligence

Introduction: Negligence is an unintentional tort in which the wrongdoer does not intend to cause harm as a result of the wrongdoer’s conduct. Negligent acts are the result of the wrongdoer acting carelessly, or failing to act, thus, not exercising an ordinary level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances. To create liability, a wrongdoer’s conduct must create a risk of harm that is reasonably foreseeable under the circumstances. The plaintiff/injured party must prove the elements of negligence that include, (1) that the defendant/wrongdoer owed a legal duty of care to the plaintiff under the circumstances, (2) that the wrongdoer acted in a careless manner so as to breach the duty of care, (3) that the breach was the cause of harm to the plaintiff, (4) and resulted in specific harm for which damages can be recovered. A defendant may attempt to defend against a negligence claim by asserting legal defenses of a superceding event, or assumption of risk, or, in certain jurisdictions, comparative or contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff.