Indiana Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Indiana Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

I. Introduction to Torts
Torts are civil wrongs that cause someone else to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It’s essential to distinguish torts from crimes, which are wrongs against the state, and from breaches of contract, which involve the failure to uphold the terms of a contract.

II. Intentional Torts
A. Battery
– Definition: An intentional and offensive touching of another person without lawful justification.
– Elements: Intent, harmful or offensive contact, causation, and lack of consent.
– Case: Fisher v. Carrousel Motor Hotel, Inc. (1967) – A waiter snatched a plate from a guest’s hand, which was considered offensive contact.

B. Assault
– Definition: An act intending to cause apprehension of harmful or offensive contact.
– Elements: Intent, reasonable apprehension, imminent harm or offensive contact.
– Case: I de S and Wife v. W de S (1348) – Early case establishing the tort of assault.

C. False Imprisonment
– Definition: Intentional confinement of a person without legal authority or the person’s consent.
– Elements: Intent, confinement, awareness of confinement, lack of lawful justification.
– Case: Enright v. Groves (1977) – A police officer wrongfully detained a meter maid, constituting false imprisonment.

D. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)
– Definition: Intentional or reckless conduct that is extreme and outrageous, causing severe emotional distress.
– Elements: Outrageous conduct, intent or recklessness, causation, severe emotional distress.
– Case: Harris v. Jones (1977) – The court established a four-part test for IIED.

E. Trespass to Land
– Definition: Intentional entry onto the land of another without permission or legal right.
– Elements: Intent, physical entry, unauthorized entry.
– Case: Dougherty v. Stepp (1835) – The court held that any unauthorized entry onto someone else’s land is a trespass.

F. Trespass to Chattels and Conversion
– Trespass to Chattels: Intentional interference with the use or possession of personal property.
– Conversion: An intentional exercise of control over another’s property that so seriously interferes with their rights that it warrants paying the property’s full value.
– Case: Pearson v. Dodd (1969) – Taking and using information from personal papers was considered trespass to chattels.

III. Negligence
A. Duty
– Definition: The legal obligation to conform to a standard of care to avoid foreseeable harm to others.
– The standard is typically that of a “reasonable person” under similar circumstances.
B. Breach of Duty
– Definition: A failure to meet the standard of care.
– The Learned Hand formula (B<PL) and custom can be used to assess breach.
C. Causation
– Actual Causation (“but for” causation)
– Proximate Causation (foreseeability test and scope of the risk)
– Case: Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (1928) – The court established the concept of proximate cause.
D. Damages
– Plaintiff must have suffered actual harm or damage.
E. Defenses to Negligence
– Comparative Fault (Indiana applies a modified comparative fault system)
– Assumption of Risk
– Contributory Negligence (only a few jurisdictions)

IV. Strict Liability
A. Animals
– Owners are strictly liable for harm caused by wild animals and, in some cases, domestic animals.
B. Abnormally Dangerous Activities
– Activities that, by their nature, pose a high risk of harm and cannot be made safe.
C. Product Liability
– Manufacturers and sellers may be strictly liable for defective products that cause harm.

V. Vicarious Liability
A. Respondeat Superior
– Employers can be held liable for the torts of their employees if the torts were committed within the course and scope of employment.

VI. Defamation
A. Elements
– A defamatory statement, published to a third party, that is false, injurious to reputation, and without privilege.
B. Defenses
– Truth, privilege, and consent.

VII. Privacy Torts
A. Appropriation
B. Intrusion upon Seclusion
C. Public Disclosure of Private Facts
D. False Light

VIII. Defenses to Intentional Torts
A. Consent
B. Self-Defense
C. Defense of Others
D. Defense of Property
E. Necessity (Public and Private)

IX. Damages in Tort Law
A. Compensatory Damages
– To make the plaintiff “whole” again.
B. Punitive Damages
– To punish and deter particularly egregious conduct.

X. Indiana-Specific Tort Law Considerations
– Indiana’s Comparative Fault System: Indiana follows a modified comparative negligence rule, where a plaintiff can recover damages only if they are less than 51% at fault.
– Indiana Product Liability Act: Governs product liability actions in Indiana, including the statute of limitations and repose.
– Indiana Guest Statute: Limits the liability of drivers for injuries to passengers under certain circumstances.

By understanding these foundational principles and their applications, students can prepare for their final examination in Torts with a comprehensive view of the subject matter. As always, students should refer to Indiana-specific statutes and case law for particular rules and decisions that apply within the state’s jurisdictions.

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