Hawaii Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Hawaii Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

I. Intentional Torts
A. Battery: Intentional infliction of harmful or offensive contact.
– Elements: Act, Intent, Causation, Harmful or Offensive Contact
– Vosburg v. Putney (1891): A boy’s intentional kick resulted in severe injury.
– Issue: Does a defendant’s liability for battery require an intention to harm?
– Rule: Liability for battery requires the intent to make contact, not the intent to harm.
– Analysis: The defendant did not intend to harm the plaintiff but did intend the contact that resulted in harm.
– Conclusion: The defendant was liable for battery.

B. Assault: Intentional creation of a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact.
    - Elements: Act, Intent, Apprehension, Imminent Harmful or Offensive Contact

C. False Imprisonment: Intentional confinement of another without lawful privilege and against their consent.
    - Elements: Act, Intent, Confinement, Without Lawful Privilege, Against Consent

D. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED): Extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causing severe emotional distress.
    - Elements: Conduct, Intent or Recklessness, Outrageousness, Causation, Severe Emotional Distress

E. Trespass to Land: Intentional entry onto the land of another without permission or legal right.
    - Elements: Act, Intent, Entry, Land of Another

F. Trespass to Chattels and Conversion: Intentional interference with another's use or possession of personal property (trespass to chattels) or intentional exercise of dominion and control over another's personal property (conversion).
    - Elements (Trespass to Chattels): Act, Intent, Interference, Personal Property
    - Elements (Conversion): Act, Intent, Dominion and Control, Personal Property

II. Negligence
A. Duty: A legal obligation to conform to a standard of conduct for the protection of others against unreasonable risks.
– General Duty Rule: Everyone has a duty to act as a reasonable person.
– Hawaii Rule: Follows the general duty rule but with specific considerations for local customs and statutes.

B. Breach: Failure to conform to the standard of care.
    - Reasonable Person Standard: Actions measured against how a reasonable person would have acted under similar circumstances.
    - Learn Hand Formula: B < P x L (Breach occurs when the burden (B) of taking precautions is less than the probability (P) and severity (L) of the loss.)

C. Causation: Requirement that the defendant's breach of duty be closely connected to the plaintiff's injury.
    - Actual Cause: "But-for" the defendant's actions, the injury would not have occurred.
    - Proximate Cause: The scope of the defendant's responsibility, considering foreseeability of the harm.

D. Damages: Plaintiff must have suffered actual loss or harm.
    - Compensatory Damages: Intended to compensate for actual loss.
    - Punitive Damages: Intended to punish egregious behavior and deter future similar acts.

E. Defenses to Negligence:
    - Comparative Negligence: Hawaii follows a modified comparative negligence rule where a plaintiff can recover only if they are 50% or less at fault.
    - Assumption of Risk: Plaintiff's acceptance of a known risk can serve as a defense to negligence.

F. Negligence Per Se: Violation of a statute which is intended to protect against the type of harm the plaintiff suffered as a result of the violation.
    - Hawaii may use negligence per se as evidence of breach of duty.

III. Strict Liability
A. Liability without fault for abnormally dangerous activities, wild animals, and certain product liabilities.
– Abnormally Dangerous Activities: Activities that pose a high risk of harm that cannot be completely guarded against by the exercise of reasonable care.
– Wild Animals: Strict liability for harm caused by wild animals owned or possessed by a person.
– Product Liability: Hawaii follows strict product liability for defective products.

IV. Products Liability
A. Liability for defective products causing injury.
– Manufacturing Defect: Product departs from its intended design.
– Design Defect: Product’s design is inherently dangerous or useless.
– Failure to Warn: Failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions.

V. Vicarious Liability
A. Liability imposed on one party for the tortious acts of another.
– Respondeat Superior: Employer may be liable for the acts of an employee if the acts were committed within the scope of employment.
– Independent Contractors: Generally, one is not liable for the acts of independent contractors unless the work is inherently dangerous or the contractor is incompetent.

VI. Defamation
A. A false statement of fact that harms another’s reputation.
– Libel: Defamation in written or printed form.
– Slander: Spoken defamation.
– Defenses: Truth, privilege, and in some cases, the First Amendment.

VII. Privacy Torts
A. Invasion of privacy, including intrusion upon seclusion, public disclosure of private facts, false light, and appropriation.

VIII. Nuisance
A. Private nuisance: Unreasonable interference with another’s use or enjoyment of property.
B. Public nuisance: Unreasonable interference with a right common to the public.

IX. Wrongful Death and Survival Actions
A. Wrongful Death: A civil action brought for damages for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another.
B. Survival Action: Allows a decedent’s claim to be brought by the estate after the decedent’s death.

X. Damages in Torts
A. Compensatory Damages: Damages intended to make the plaintiff “whole.”
B. Punitive Damages: Damages intended to punish the defendant and deter future similar conduct.

XI. Hawaii Specific Tort Law
A. Hawaii follows a modified comparative negligence system and has specific statutes that may affect tort claims.
B. Hawaii’s no-fault insurance system affects tort claims arising from motor vehicle accidents.
C. Hawaii-specific statutes and case law should be consulted for particular issues of local concern, such as claims against the state or local government entities, which may have different procedural requirements or limitations.

In preparing for your final exam, it is crucial to have a solid understanding of the principles and cases outlined in this study guide. Be sure to review the facts, procedural history, and holdings of the cases, and understand how they apply to the tort concepts. Additionally, pay attention to the nuances of Hawaii tort law that may differ from general principles. Always check the most recent Hawaii statutes and case law, as these can change and impact the analysis of tort issues.

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