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Civil Law and Procedure. How do crimes differ from Torts. 1. A crime is an offense against society. 2. A tort is a private or civil wrong. It is an offense against an individual The inured person can sue for damages (a monetary award intended to compensate for harm done).

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Civil Law

and Procedure


How do crimes differ

from Torts

  • 1. A crime is an offense against society.
  • 2. A tort is a private or civil wrong.
    • It is an offense against an individual
    • The inured person can sue for damages (a monetary award intended to compensate for harm done)

How do crimes differ

from Torts

One act can be both crime (fine or jail) and tort (money damages)

Money is intended to compensate for injury.


After an exhausting day of skiing, Josephina was driving home near sunset. She dozed off momentarily and crossed the highway dividing lane. She then crashed head-on into John’s panel truck. Both drivers were seriously injured, and their vehicles were “totaled.” Although Josephina was asleep at the time, has she violated any rights of the other driver?

Crime – Reckless driving

Tort – injured the John’s property


Elements of a Tort?

1. Duty - legal obligation owed another to do or not to do something? Usually defined by state laws

2. Breach -Violation of Duty

3. Injury (recognized by law)

4. Causation – proof that the breach caused the injury


Elements of a Tort?


Judge will decide if duty exists using state case and statutory law and occasionally federal law.

Duties caused by tort law:

1. duty not to inure another (bodily, reputation, invasion of privacy)

2. duty not to interfere with the property rights of others (example trespassing)

3. duty not to interfere with the economic rights of others. (example: right to contract)


Elements of a Tort?

Violation of Duty

Breach of duty is almost always a question of fact for the:

Jury to decide

Three types of mental states at the time of the tort:

Intentional, Negligence, Strict Liability.


Elements of a Tort?


Proximate Cause - the amount of cause exists when it is reasonably foreseeable that a particular breach of duty will result in a particular injury (Association of breach and injury)

All persons, including minors, are personally responsible for their conduct and therefore liable for their torts. Even children or insane persons may be held liable for injuring others.


Elements of a Tort?


Vicarious liability – when one person is liable for the torts of another.

In some states have parental responsibility laws. They require parents make restitution for their child’s acts.


Elements of a Tort?


What parties might be held responsible for another person’s tort?

Parents (for their children)

Employers (for their employees)


Hunt was taking riding lessons from Saddleback Stables. Patterson, the Saddleback instructor, was a skilled rider although only 15 years old. Nevertheless, during a lesson while leading the horse Hunt was riding Patterson negligently dropped the bridle. As a result, the horse bolted and Hunt was thrown to the ground and inured. Who was liable for Hunt’s injuries?

Patterson would be

Saddleback Stables also


Intentional Torts,

Negligence, and Strict




Intentional Torts

  • Torts in which the defendant possessed the intent or purpose to inflict the resultant injury?
  • Defendant intended either the injury or threat.
  • Indent to produce injury not required.

Intentional Torts

1. Assault

2. Battery

3. False Imprisonment

4. Defamation

5. Invasion of privacy

6. Trespass

7. Conversion

8. Interference with Contractual Relations.

9. Fraud


Intentional Torts


Intentionally threatens to injure another .

Must be believable with ability to carry it out. from the viewpoint of the potential victim.

Can be physical or offensive sexual.



Spencer thought willis had swindled him. Spencer told Wills that he was going to “beat your face to a pulp.” Was there assault?

Spencer is elderly and totally blind. Was there assault.


Intentional Torts


An unlawful or harmful touching

Shooting, pushing, spitting on, etc.

Assault usually comes before battery

If contact is not intentional then no battery

No battery if action justified (self-defense)


Intentional Torts

false imprisonment

  • Depriving a person of freedom of movement without consent or without privilege.
  • locked in car, threatened to stay in one place, handcuffed.
  • Merchants may detain a person if they have a reasonable basis for believing the person was shoplifting.


While Augusto was driving Sharon on a date to the theater, she became angry and told him to stop the car and let her out. Augusto refused and increased his speed to make it impossible for Sharon to get out. He kept her in the car this way for one half hour. Was Sharon falsely imprisoned.




Edna was dressed in jeans, old tennis shoes, and a torn, faded shirt when she went shopping in an expensive high-fashion department store. A security officer became suspicious of her because of her mode of dress. As Edna was leaving, she was stopped and asked to empty her pockets. Outraged, she said, “Leave me alone.” When she tried to leave, the security officer produced handcuffs and said “If you don’t cooperate, I’ll cuff you until the police get here.” Was this false imprisonment.

The security officer did not have a reasonable basis for detaining Edna. Therefore, she was falsely imprisoned.


Intentional Torts


False statements made to injure one’s reputation.

Must be false

Someone else must have heard or read.

Bring the victim into disrepute, contempt, or ridicule by others.


Intentional Torts


Slander - if spoken (you must show that you suffered an actual physical loss)

Liable - if written (assumed to have suffered a loss so damages do not have to be shown to the court)

Statements about public officials or prominent personalities does not count unless statements are made with malice.


Intentional Torts

Invasion of Privacy

Unwelcome, unlawful intrusion into one’s private life so as to cause outrage, mental suffering, humiliation.

Protected when you have a reasonable “expectation of privacy”

Freedom from commercial exploitation of one’s name, picture or endorsement without permission.


Intentional Torts


Entering the realty of another without the owner’s consent.

Can also be interference with property such as dumping garbage onto another’s property.

Intent to be on the property required, but intent to Trespass is not required.


Intentional Torts


Property owner’s right to do what they would like with their own property is violated.

The right is violated if the property is stolen, destroyed, or used in a manner inconsistent with the owner’s rights.



Sanchez went on a three-week vacation . He left the key to his house with his neighbor, Buckley. Without permission, Buckley used the key to get into Sanchez’s garage to borrow Sanchez’s new chain saw. Buckley used the chain saw for two weeks to cut up nine cords of firewood. When Sanchez returned home and discovered what had happened, he sued Buckley. Is this correct?

What can he recover?

He can recover the rental value of the chain saw, or he could let Buckley keep the chain saw and sue for the price of a new one.


Intentional Torts

Interference with

Contractual Relations

If a third party encourages a breach on contract they may be liable in tort to the nonbreaching party.



A brilliant scientist had a long-term employment contract to do genetic research at a famous university. A competing research laboratory persuaded the scientist to breach the agreement and come to work for it.

As a result, the university could sue the scientist for breach of contract. In addition, the university could sue the laboratory for the tort of interference with contractual relations.


Intentional Torts


Intentional misrepresentation of an existing important fact.

The misrepresentation must be relied on and cause financial injury.

Typically a statement of opinion is not considered fraudulent.



Waters advertised that he possessed expertise in tax matters. Relying on such advertising, Midwest Supply had Waters prepare its federal income tax return. Waters assigned the preparation of the return to a new employee who was not qualified, and the tax return was defective. Midwest was required to pay additional taxes and sued Waters for damages. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Midwest for extra damages of $100,000 to punish Waters. Judgement was entered on this verdict and Waters appealed.



Judgement was affirmed. The defendant had misrepresented to the public that tax returns prepared by it were prepared by experts. The new employee preparing the Midwest returns was not qualified. He was a former construction worker and did not have nay special training in tax return preparation. The claim of Waters that expert service was provided his clients was fraudulent. The damages were therefore properly awarded.



Which of the intentional Torts are torts against persons and which are intentional torts against property?


Elements of a Tort?

Violation of Duty

Breach of duty is almost always a question of fact for the:

Jury to decide

Three types of mental states at the time of the tort:

Intentional, Negligence, Strict Liability.



The most common tort

Intent not required only carelessness.



The difference between negligence and intentional torts involves Motivation.

The person who commits a negligent tort does not deliberately set out to cause personal or property injury, but causes injury through carelessness.

The person who commits an intentional tort commits a deliberate injury.



Reasonable-man standard-ones legal obligations toward other people.

DUTY - The duty requires that we act with the care prudence and good judgement of a reasonable person so as not to cause injury to others.

CAUSATION AND INJURY – the violation of the duty must be the proximate cause of the injury.



Britt was driving home late one rainy night after drinking alcohol all evening. She raced down residential streets at speeds up to fifty miles per hour with only one working headlight. Meanwhile, Yee was slowly backing her station wagon out of her driveway, but she failed to look both ways when she should have. Britt rammed into the right rear end of Yee’s car. Yee’s station wagon was badly damaged, and she was injured. Can Yee collect from Britt?

A reasonable person would drive at a safe speed and only when sober with working lights. So yes Yee could collect property damage and personal injury damage.


Defenses to


1. Contributory Negligence

2. Comparative negligence

3. Assumption of risk.


Contributory Negligent

If the plaintiff’s own negligence was a partial cause of the injury they cannot recover and money.

Does not matter if you were only a little negligent.



Britt and Yee

If Yee backed up without looking left or right could Yee Still recover damages?

Not if Yee was in a state that recognizes contributory negligence. It does not matter if one party was more negligent than the other.


Comparative Negligence

Applies when a plaintiff in a negligence action is partially at fault.

The plaintiff is awarded damages but they are reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s negligence. Cannot recover if you are more at fault then defendant.

Most states have this.


Assumption of


If plaintiffs are aware of a danger, but decide to subject themselves to the risk, that is a defense.

They cannot recover


Elements of a Tort?

Violation of Duty

Breach of duty is almost always a question of fact for the:

Jury to decide

Three types of mental states at the time of the tort:

Intentional, Negligence, Strict Liability.


Strict Liability

This liability exist even though the defendant was not negligent.

The defendant is liable if they were engaged in a particular activity that resulted in injury. Blasting, crop dusting, dangerous animals ownership.


Strict Liability

Under strict liability the manufacturer and any seller in the chain of distribution are liable to any buyer of the defective product who is injured by it.

Selling of goods that are unreasonably dangerous.

Strict Liability is necessary because negligence often is difficult to prove, and without it the victim would not be compensated.



Mrs. Lamb went to a grocery store and placed a carton of carbonated soft drink in her shopping cart. One of the bottles exploded and the broken glass cut her leg. Can she collect in tort from the grocery store or the bottler?

Mrs. Lamm could collect from either the store or the bottler,


Elements of a Tort?

Duty - legal obligation owed another to do or not to do something? Usually defined by state laws

Violation of Duty(The activity and injury sustained substitutes in strict liability cases.)


Causation - breach of duty that caused the injury.



With a partner come up with a scenario that would fall under strict liability. What type of evidence would be needed to prove the tort in court?


Vicarious Liability

When one person is liable for the torts of another person.

Sometimes parents are responsible for the torts of their children?

Example would be a business being responsible for the actions of their employees.


Show me the Money

What type of remedy can a victim of a tort expect?

injunction and damages


Show me the Money


Damages - awarded to the injured party to compensate for loss caused by tort.

Compensatory damages – awarded to place the injured party in the same financial position.

Punitive Damages - Awarded as punishment for defendants malice. (Available for intentional torts)

Malice - deliberate intention to cause the injury.


Civil Action Procedure

The civil action procedures includes the:

Plaintiff - party who brings a civil action to enforce a private right.

Defendant - Party whom the civil action is brought against.


Civil Case Trial

Each Trial has:

Jury - body of impartial citizens that listen to witnesses, review evidence and decide issues of fact. 6 to 12

Have right to trial by Jury but if both plaintiff and defendant forgo this right there does not need to have one.


Civil Case Trial

Judges and Juries serve different roles

Judges always decide any issues of Law.

Jury decide issues of fact

If the plaintiff and defendant agree you can have no jury and then the judge decides both the issues of law and the issues of fact.


Civil Case Trial

Each Trial has:

Opening Statement - they briefly outline what the plaintiff or the defendant will try to prove.

Evidence - includes anything the judge allows to be presented to the jury to prove or disprove the alleged facts.

Testimony - statements made by witnesses under oath.


Civil Case Trial

Each Trial has:

Witness - someone who has personal knowledge of the facts

Expert Witness - witness who posses superior knowledge about important facts.


Civil Case Trial

Each Trial has:

Witnesses that do not want to be there:

Subpoena - written order by the judge commanding a witness to appear in court to give testimony.

Contempt of Court - willful, unexcused failure to appear in court. (Can be jailed without a trial).


Civil Case Trial

Each Trial has:

Closing Statements - each attorney summarizes the case, trying to persuade jury or judge to their side.

Instructions to the Jury - tell the jury what rules of law apply to the case. The jury then needs to apply the fact.

Example: It is illegal to drive above the speed limit. (Law). They need to decide if he was speeding (Fact)


Civil Case Trial

Each Trial has:

Jury Deliberation - they secretly talk about the case and make a decision.

Preponderance of the Evidence - the majority (51%) of the evidence supports the plaintiff’s case.**

Vote- does not need to be unanimous to find guilty. 10 out of 12 most times


Civil Case Trial

Each Trial has:

Verdict - is the jury’s decision.

Judgement - the final result of the trial. Normally a sum of money.

If either party feels that there was an error in trial they can appeal to higher court.**


What if they do

not Pay?

Plaintiff may obtain a writ of execution- the court can seize and sell property of the defendant.