Colorado Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Colorado Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Torts Overview
– Definition: A tort is a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, that causes harm or loss, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act.
– Purpose: Torts law seeks to provide a remedy (usually in the form of monetary damages) to individuals harmed by the wrongful acts of others and to deter others from committing harmful acts.

Intentional Torts
– Battery: The intentional infliction of harmful or offensive contact upon another person without consent or privilege.
– Assault: The intentional creation of a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the victim of imminent harmful or offensive contact.
– False Imprisonment: The intentional confinement of a person within boundaries fixed by the actor without lawful privilege to do so, and without the victim’s consent.
– Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED): Extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causing severe emotional distress to another.
– Trespass to Land: Unauthorized and intentional intrusion onto land in possession of another.
– Trespass to Chattels: Intentionally interfering with another person’s lawful possession of personal property.
– Conversion: The intentional exercise of dominion or control over another’s personal property that so seriously interferes with the other’s right of control that it warrants payment for the full value of the item.
– Defenses to Intentional Torts: Consent, self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, necessity, and authority of law.

– Duty: The obligation to conform to a standard of conduct to protect others against unreasonable risks.
– Breach: Failure to meet the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have met under similar circumstances.
– Causation: The requirement that the breach of duty be the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s harm.
– Damages: The plaintiff must have suffered actual loss or harm as a result of the breach.
– Defenses to Negligence: Contributory negligence, comparative negligence, assumption of risk, and statutory limits.
– Colorado follows the modified comparative negligence rule, allowing recovery only if the plaintiff is less than 50% at fault.

Strict Liability
– Abnormally Dangerous Activities: Liability imposed for harm resulting from abnormally dangerous activities, regardless of precautions taken.
– Animals: Owners are held strictly liable for the harm caused by their wild animals and, in some cases, for harm caused by their domestic animals.

Product Liability
– Design Defects: When a product is inherently unsafe due to its design, leading to injury when used as intended.
– Manufacturing Defects: Errors in the manufacturing process that lead to unsafe products.
– Failure to Warn: The failure of a manufacturer or seller to provide adequate instructions or warnings about the product’s risks.
– Defenses: Assumption of risk, misuse of the product, and comparative fault.

– Slander: Spoken defamatory statements.
– Libel: Written or published defamatory statements.
– Elements: False statement, publication, fault, and harm.
– Defenses: Truth, opinion, privilege, and consent.

Privacy Torts
– Intrusion upon Seclusion: Invading someone’s private affairs without permission.
– Public Disclosure of Private Facts: Publicizing private information about someone in a manner that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.
– False Light: Publicizing facts about someone that put them in a false light.
– Appropriation: Unauthorized use of someone’s name or likeness for commercial gain.

Vicarious Liability
– Respondeat Superior: An employer is held liable for tortious acts committed by an employee while acting within the scope of employment.

Damages in Torts
– Compensatory Damages: Intended to compensate the victim for the loss or injury suffered.
– Punitive Damages: Intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter future misconduct.

Case Law (using IRAC format)

Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co.
– Issue: Whether the railroad was liable for injuries sustained by Palsgraf when scales fell on her as a result of a distant explosion caused by fireworks that were mishandled by railroad employees.
– Rule: The court established the foreseeability test for proximate cause in negligence.
– Analysis: The majority concluded that there was no negligence where the harm was not foreseeable to a reasonable person in the position of the railroad employees.
– Conclusion: The railroad was not liable as the harm to Palsgraf was not a foreseeable result of the employees’ actions.

Trimarco v. Klein
– Issue: Whether the landlord breached a duty of care by not providing shatterproof glass in the bathroom, resulting in the tenant’s injury.
– Rule: Customary practice can be evidence of a standard of care in negligence cases.
– Analysis: The court held that the landlord’s compliance with the custom of using ordinary glass did not absolve him of liability if a reasonable person would have used shatterproof glass.
– Conclusion: The case was remanded for a jury to determine if the landlord breached the standard of care.

This guide is a starting point for understanding tort law in Colorado. Remember to supplement your studies with specific Colorado statutes, regulations, and case law to ensure a comprehensive understanding of how torts are applied in the state.

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