Villiers Sp02 JG_Torts II

Villiers Sp02 JG_Torts II - TORTS II Professor J Villiers...

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T ORTS II Professor J. Villiers St. John’s University School of Law Spring 2002 Basis for tort liability: - Conduct intended to cause harm - Conduct negligent in nature - Conduct subject to strict liability Strict Liability Strict liability (absolute liability, liability without fault) may be imposed for three types of activities: 1. Animals – keeping the animals 2. Abnormally Dangerous Activities 3. Products Liability – manufacture, selling and renting of dangerous products Animals Trespassing Animals Common Law Rule – Owner or possessor of animals is strictly liable for the damage caused by trespassing animal If lack of due care may be shown the negligence cause of action also can be brought; negligence is harder to proof , but the award may be larger Exceptions : Cats and dogs Livestock on Highway – the owner or possessor is not strictly liable for the damages to the properties adjacent to the highway caused by animals straying from a highway on which they are lawfully being driven; strict liability still exists for the damages to other properties Statutes Fencing In Statutes – the owner or possessor of the animals is strictly liable for the harm caused by escaped animal only if he fails to keep animals on his property fencing them in; attempt to fence the animals in (even unsuccessful) takes the case out of strict liability into negligence Fencing Out Statutes – the owner of the land has the obligation to fence animals out of his property. No fence – no strict liability for the owner of the animals Non-Trespass Liability Wild Animals – owner is strictly liable for all damages caused by his animal, as long as the damage results from dangerous propensity typical of the species Domesticated Animals – owner strictly liable if he knows or should have known (has reason to know) of the animal dangerous characteristics or vicious propensities (for example if the dog attacked people before) Limitations to strict liability for animals : Jeff Goland Page 1 5/13/2009
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Only foreseeable damages are recoverable Assumption of risk Abnormally Dangerous Activities (Ultra-hazardous activities) A person is strictly liable for damages occurred as a result of his conducting the abnormally dangerous activity Six factors in determining whether an activity is abnormally dangerous (1) High degree of risk of harm to other persons or property (2) The harm is likely to be serious (3) The risk cannot be eliminated by the exercise of reasonable care – most important factor (4) The activity is not common (5) The activity is not appropriate for the place where it is carried on (6) The danger outweighs the activity’s value to the community Limitations to strict liability for abnormally dangerous activities: Liability only extends to foreseeable plaintiffs who are injured by the kind of harm that makes the activity dangerous Contributory negligence is not a defense, however
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