Idaho Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Idaho Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

I. Introduction to Torts

Torts are civil wrongs recognized by law as grounds for a lawsuit. These wrongs result in an injury or harm constituting the basis for a claim by the injured party. The primary aims of tort law are to provide relief to injured parties, impose liability on parties responsible for the harm, and deter others from committing harmful acts.

II. Intentional Torts

A. Battery – Intentional infliction of harmful or offensive contact.
Garratt v. Dailey (1955): Young child moved a chair causing an elderly person to fall. Court looked at whether the child had the intent to bring about the harmful consequences.

B. Assault – Intentional act causing reasonable apprehension of immediate harmful or offensive contact.
I de S and Wife v. W de S (1348): First recorded assault case where shouting and advancing upon a person was considered assault.

C. False Imprisonment – Intentional confinement of a person without legal authority and without consent.
Whittaker v. Sandford (1912): Deliberate confinement on a yacht without means of escape.

D. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress – Extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causing severe emotional distress.
Taylor v. Vallelunga (1959): Where a child witnessed her father being beaten, but there was no intent to cause her distress, the claim failed.

E. Trespass to Land – Intentional entry onto land owned by another without permission.
Rogers v. Board of Road Com’rs for Kent County (1928): Unintentional entry onto another’s land can still be considered trespass if it was foreseeable.

F. Trespass to Chattels and Conversion – Intentional interference with another’s personal property (trespass to chattels) or the intentional exercise of dominion or control over another’s property (conversion).
Intel Corp. v. Hamidi (2003): Sending emails to Intel’s employees was not considered a trespass to chattels as it caused no damage to or impairment of the computers.

III. Negligence

A. Duty – Legal obligation to conform to a standard of conduct to protect others from unreasonable risks.
– The “reasonable person” standard is typically applied.

B. Breach – Failure to meet the standard of care.
Vaughan v. Menlove (1837): Defendant’s failure to heed warnings about hay rick fire risk was a breach of duty.

C. Causation – Establishing that the breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s harm.
– Actual Cause: “But-for” standard.
– Proximate Cause: Legal cause, considering foreseeability.
Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (1928): The harm must be a foreseeable result of the defendant’s conduct.

D. Damages – The plaintiff must demonstrate actual harm to recover.
– Compensatory damages include medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

E. Defenses to Negligence
– Contributory Negligence: Plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to the harm.
– Comparative Negligence: Damages are apportioned according to fault.
– Assumption of Risk: Plaintiff knowingly assumed the risks associated with an activity.

IV. Strict Liability

A. Liability without fault for certain activities that are inherently dangerous.
Rylands v. Fletcher (1868): Establishes strict liability for unnatural use of land.

V. Products Liability

A. Claims against manufacturers and sellers for products that cause harm.
– Liability can be based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty.

VI. Defamation

A. False statements that harm a person’s reputation.
– Libel (written defamation) or Slander (spoken defamation).
– Public figures must also prove “actual malice.”
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964): Established the actual malice standard for public officials.

VII. Privacy Torts

A. Invasion of privacy can be committed through various acts such as intrusion upon seclusion, public disclosure of private facts, false light, and appropriation of likeness.

VIII. Economic Torts

A. Torts that cause economic harm, such as fraud, misrepresentation, and interference with contractual relations.

IX. Nuisance

A. Interference with the right to enjoy property, which can be public or private in nature.

X. Survival and Wrongful Death

A. Torts that allow for a decedent’s estate to continue a lawsuit for injuries and a separate cause of action for the death itself.

XI. Idaho-Specific Tort Law

It’s important to understand that Idaho may have specific statutes, precedents, and nuances in its application of tort law. For example, Idaho follows a modified comparative fault rule, which bars recovery if the plaintiff is found to be more at fault than the defendant. Injury lawyers must be familiar with Idaho statutes, such as the Idaho Tort Claims Act, which governs tort claims against governmental entities.

In preparing for a final exam, students should focus on understanding and applying key concepts, principles, and case law, particularly those that have significant bearing on tort law in Idaho. It’s also critical to practice writing responses using the IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion) format to effectively communicate legal reasoning.

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