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Unformatted text preview: Torts Outline I. Introduction to Torts A. Prologue 1. Torts action in each situation, someone claims that another has caused harm and looks to the law for relief. 2. Primary concern of torts law is whether or not compensation is required for harm done. 3. Fundamental issue when should losses be shifted from an injury victim to an injurer or some other source of compensation B. When Should Unintended Injury Result in Liability? 1. Two court-fashioned liability principles strict liability and negligence 2. Hammontree v. Jenner (Ct. Appeals CA 1971): [Jenner (D) suffered seizure in 52 and was diagnosed an epileptic. With medication seizures were brought under control. Had to report his condition to the Department of Motor Vehicles on a periodic basis. Since seizures were under control, was allowed to keep license. In 67, suffered a seizure while driving, lost control of car, hit Hammontrees (Ps) shop striking Mrs. Hammontree. Ps sued personal injury and property damage. Trial judge instructed jury on negligence rather than strict liability.] Question : In strict liability an appropriate theory for recover when sudden illness renders an automobile driver unconscious? Held : No. Strict liability is an appropriate theory when products cause injury. The theory of negligence, however, is appropriate for auto accidents. Since D showed reasonable care to control his seizures, negligence not shown. 3. Strict liability 4. Negligence - Negligence is the failure to use ordinary or reasonable care; the doing of something which a reasonably prudent person would not do, or the failure to do something which a reasonably prudent person would do, under the circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence. C. The Litigation Process When an injury occurs, the courts are available for the injured party to redress the injury. The injured party who seeks to recover is called the plaintiff. P will usually be seeking damages for injuries to person or property. The person who is sued for the injury is called the defendant. 1. Evolution of a Lawsuit a) Pretrial Prior to the trial, both parties contract attorneys and try to settle the matter. If it cannot be settled, the issues must be litigated. b) Trial To initiate the trial, the injured party files a complaint. This complaint lists the bases for the claim. The person who is sued must file an answer. D may make a motion to dismiss, called a demurrer, on the grounds that even if the allegations of fact are true, there is no sound legal theory upon which P is entitled to relief. P must respond with counter-argument. Any factual disputes must be tried to a jury for decision. After the jurys verdict is returned, the trial is over. Burden of proof is on plaintiff. If the jury is in equipoise cannot decide between the sides they must rule in favor of D....
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