Note about this outline: This is a sample law school outline for a Professional Responsibility
course at a top law school. Use this outline as a guide to learning Professional Responsibility or
as a study aid for your law school exams. Includes Cases and Examples.
Definition of Torts â€“ â€œa civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, for which the law provides a
4 MAJOR PURPOSES of TORT LAW:
1) to provide a peaceful means for adjusting the rights of parties who might otherwise â€œtake
the law into their own handsâ€;
2) to deter wrongful conduct;
3) to encourage socially responsible behavior; and
4) to restore injured parties to their original condition, insofar as the law can do this, by
compensating them for their injuries.
In all civil acts, â€œ the law doth not so much regard the intent of the actor, as the loss and damage
of the party suffering.â€
THE â€œJERKâ€ principle â€“ Courts donâ€™t like jerks. In the real world, a court would impose
liability, even though most people would not be offended.
In modern law, there is a requirement of proving actual damages except in cases of assault,
offensive but harmless battery, false imprisonment, and trespass to land.
BURDEN OF PROOF STANDARDS
criminal suits â€“ proof beyond a reasonable doubt (Almost 100% certain)
civil suits â€“ preponderance of evidence standard (greater than 50% certain)
clear and convincing evidence (at least 75% certain)
1. Intentional Torts to the Person and to Property
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A. The Meaning of Intent (applicable to all intentional torts)
INTENT to cause a harmful or offensive contact means: (Garrett v. Dailey)
1) desire to cause a contact that is harmful or offensive; or
2) substantial certainty that harmful or offensive contact will take place.
Volitional (willful) conduct is not enough to be considered intent. (must be tied to an action)
Motive is irrelevant. Volition and Intent may not be necessarily connected.
TRANSFERRED INTENT â€“ only applies to 5 old trespass actions
3. false imprisonment
4. trespass to land
5. trespass to chattels
Talmage v. Smith (p.4) FACTS - A man intended to throw a stick at a boy. He missed the boy
and hit another boy (which he had no knowledge of) â€“ RULE â€“ If a defendant intended on
hitting another boy (or anyone else) AND the force was unreasonable, then the defendant would
be doing an unlawful act and would be liable. â€“ RESULTS â€“ The defendant was held liable
because there was transferred intent of battery.
Variations: (courts will transfer intent under these conditions as long as it is the above 5)
1) same tort, different person
2) different tort, same person
3) different tort, different person
In every intent scenario, if intent isnâ€™t clearly there, ask yourself if there can be a transferred
HYPOS - Prof Anderson standing in front of his house, Prof Knaplund is with him. I do a
driveby, and shoot at Andersen,
1) missed Andersen hit Knaplund â€“ sues for battery â€“ yes there is intent? Variation 1.
2) Missed both of them. Bullet hits Andersenâ€™s house? Transferred intent and it is a
trespass to land. (variation of tort, same person)
3) Missed Andersen, miss Andersenâ€™s house, hitâ€™s another persons house. Yes transferred
to land â€“ variation 3. Different tort, different person.
4) Bullet hits Andersen, Knaplund is a safe distance away and doesnâ€™t feel threatened
(intentional infliction of emotional distress), Knaplund is distraught. NO TRANSFER
of intent! Not of the old trespass action.
4 Defenses for the INTENT element:
A) No intent
B) Yes intent â€“ intent to take the horse but the motive is to save his life (affirmative defense
â€“ exception coercion)
C) No intent â€“ no desire or substantial certainty to touch the plaintiffâ€™s body (could be
negligence) e.g. â€“ Not substantially certain to run someone over.
D) Yes intent â€“ Exception â€“ duty or self-defense.
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Intent vs. Negligence
Spivey v. Battaglia (p.2) FACTS - Defendant gave a friendly, unsolicited hug to a female co-
worker which resulted in partial paralysis. Defendant agreed to assault so that the statute of
limitation on negligence would run â€“ RULE â€“ The distinction between intent and negligence
boils down to a matter of degree.
3 types of money damages from tort claims
a. Damages where there arenâ€™t necessarily an economic harm associated with that
b. Embarrassment, humiliation, physical pain, emotional distress.
a. ECONOMIC â€“ hospital bill, loss of income.
a. Designed not to compensate, but to punish and to deter future action.
B. The Intentional Torts
1) an act, (An assertion of will manifested in the external world.)
2) with the INTENT (desire OR SUBSTAINAL CERTAINTY) to cause a contact with
a person which is harmful or offensive, or with the intent to cause the imminent
apprehension of such contact;
3) causing; (factual or legal/proximate causation)
4) A harmful or offensive contact with the person
2) with the INTENT (desire OR SUBSTAINAL CERTAINTY) to cause a contact with a