Arizona Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts
I. Introduction to Torts
Torts Defined: A tort is a civil wrong, other than breach of contract, for which the law provides a remedy. The primary aim is to compensate the victim, deter wrongful conduct, and allocate the cost of injuries to those responsible.
Intentional Torts vs. Negligence vs. Strict Liability: Torts are generally categorized into three groups: intentional torts (where the defendant has an intent to perform the act), negligence (where the defendant breaches a duty of care causing harm), and strict liability (where fault does not depend on the presence of negligence or intent).
II. Intentional Torts
Assault and Battery: Assault is the intentional act of putting another in apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact. Battery is the intentional infliction of a harmful or offensive physical contact.
- Garratt v. Dailey (1955): A young boy moved a chair causing an elderly woman to fall. The court held that if the boy knew with substantial certainty that the woman would attempt to sit where the chair had been, he had the requisite intent for battery.
False Imprisonment: The intentional confinement of another without lawful privilege and against their consent within a limited area for any amount of time.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED): Extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causing severe emotional distress.
- Ford v. Revlon, Inc. (1981): The court held that repeated sexual harassment by an employee’s supervisor could constitute IIED.
Trespass to Land: Intentional and unlawful entry onto the land of another, which may include causing an object or third party to enter the land.
Conversion and Trespass to Chattels: Conversion is the intentional exercise of dominion or control over another’s personal property that so seriously interferes with the right of another to control it that the actor may justly be required to pay the full value of the chattel. Trespass to chattels is the intentional interference with the right of possession of personal property that causes harm.
Duty: The obligation to protect others from unreasonable risk of harm. In Arizona, duty is often determined by statute or common law.
Breach of Duty: A breach occurs when one’s conduct falls below the standard of care reasonable persons would have exercised under similar circumstances.
- Actual Causation: The plaintiff must show that the defendant’s breach of duty factually caused the harm (but-for causation).
- Proximate Causation: The harm must have been a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions.
Damages: The plaintiff must have suffered actual loss or damage as a result of the breach.
- Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (1928): A landmark case discussing proximate cause and foreseeability in the context of duty.
IV. Defenses to Negligence
Comparative Negligence: Arizona follows a pure comparative negligence system, meaning a plaintiff may recover even if they are 99% at fault, but their recovery will be reduced by their percentage of fault.
Assumption of Risk: The plaintiff may be barred from recovery if they knowingly and voluntarily assumed the risk inherent in a dangerous activity.
V. Strict Liability
Abnormally Dangerous Activities: Liability is imposed for damages arising out of abnormally dangerous activities regardless of the actor’s care or negligence.
Product Liability: Manufacturers and sellers may be held strictly liable for harm caused by defective products.
Compensatory Damages: To make the plaintiff whole for losses suffered. They include both economic (e.g., medical expenses) and non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering).
Punitive Damages: Intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious conduct and deter similar conduct in the future.
VII. Vicarious Liability
Respondeat Superior: Employers can be held responsible for the tortious acts of their employees if the acts occur within the scope of employment.
Independent Contractors: Generally, one is not liable for the torts of independent contractors unless the work is inherently dangerous or the employer has been negligent in hiring.
VIII. Arizona-specific Tort Concepts and Cases
Arizona Tort Reform: Be aware of legislative changes to tort law, such as damage caps or modifications to joint and several liability.
Charitable Immunity: Arizona has specific statutes that may limit the liability of certain charitable organizations.
Dog Bite Law: Arizona imposes strict liability on dog owners for bites (A.R.S. § 11-1025).
Guest Statute: Arizona has a statute that may affect the liability of a driver to their non-paying passengers in the event of an accident (A.R.S. § 12-572).
This guide provides an overview of key tort concepts as they apply in Arizona. For a comprehensive exam preparation, students should delve into case law, understand the nuances of Arizona-specific statutes, and integrate theoretical knowledge with practical application.