11%20October%20356%20(2) - An Overview of Civil Trial...

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1 An Overview of Civil Trial Courts and Federal Tort Litigation • A quick look at civil procedure • Some definitional issues with “torts” • Society’s basic choices • Data on outcomes in tort litigation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Procedure A Very Quick Look at Civil Procedure
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2 TORTS ---- Definition: a wrong; a private or civil wrong or injury resulting from a breach of legal duty that exists by virtue of society’s expectations regarding interpersonal conduct rather than by “contract” or other private relationships Origin: French from “avoir tort” or “to be wrong” or “to have wronged somebody.” Relation to criminal law : In common law, many torts originated in criminal law so there is some overlap between the two. An assault, for example, can be both a crime and a tort. The difference that grew up between the two is that in tort it is the victim who will normally initiate any court action and who aims to have a wrong compensated (for example by the payment of damages) or prevented (for example by injunctive relief). Criminal actions are normally for punitive purposes and initiated by a public prosecutor. Another distinction is that incarceration is available as a penalty for crimes, but not for torts. Negligence This is the broadest of the torts and the basis of most personal injury cases. Its four classic elements are as follows: (1) The defendant owed a duty of due care (that is, he is bound to act as a reasonably prudent person under the circumstances) to the plaintiff; (2) the defendant breached that duty ; (3) the defendant's breach was the legal and proximate cause of injury to the plaintiff; and (4) the plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the defendant's actions. These elements are often summarized as the formula of " duty, breach, causation, and damages." Obviously, whether any given injury can be brought as a negligence claim depends upon whether a lawyer can convince a court that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of due care to not inflict the particular injury at issue.
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This note was uploaded on 04/27/2008 for the course POLS 356 taught by Professor Flemming during the Spring '08 term at Texas A&M.

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11%20October%20356%20(2) - An Overview of Civil Trial...

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