Kentucky Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Kentucky Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Introduction to Torts

  • Definition: A tort is a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, for which the law provides a remedy.
  • Purpose: The primary purposes are to provide relief to injured parties, impose liability on parties responsible for the harm, and deter others from committing harmful acts.

Intentional Torts


  • Definition: Intentional infliction of harmful or offensive contact with another person without consent.
  • Kentucky Law: Refer to Restatement (Second) of Torts, which Kentucky courts often follow.


  • Definition: Intentional act creating a reasonable apprehension in another of immediate harmful or offensive contact.
  • Kentucky Law: Kentucky courts look for an overt or direct act that would give the victim reasonable apprehension of immediate physical harm.

False Imprisonment

  • Definition: Intentional confinement of a person without lawful privilege and against their consent within a limited area for any amount of time.
  • Kentucky Law: The confinement may be accomplished by force, threat, or deception.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

  • Definition: Intentional or reckless conduct that is extreme and outrageous causing severe emotional distress.
  • Kentucky Law: Kentucky recognizes IIED, also called the tort of outrage, and requires a showing of severe emotional distress.

Trespass to Land

  • Definition: Intentional entry onto the land of another without lawful justification.
  • Kentucky Law: Kentucky requires intentional entry and does not recognize accidental trespass under this tort.

Trespass to Chattels

  • Definition: Intentional interference with the personal property of another without permission or legal justification.
  • Kentucky Law: The interference must be significant enough to impair the chattel’s condition, value, or use.


  • Definition: Intentional exercise of dominion or control over the personal property of another which so seriously interferes with the right of another to control it that the actor may justly be required to pay for the full value of the chattel.
  • Kentucky Law: Kentucky follows the Restatement view and also requires the interference to be serious enough to warrant the payment of the chattel’s full value.


Duty of Care

  • Definition: Legal obligation to conform to a standard of conduct to protect others from unreasonable risks.
  • Kentucky Law: Kentucky recognizes the general duty of reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm to others.

Breach of Duty

  • Definition: Failure to conform to the required standard of care.
  • Kentucky Law: The standard is that of a reasonably prudent person under similar circumstances.


  • Definition: The defendant’s breach of duty must be both the actual cause and the proximate (legal) cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
  • Kentucky Law: Kentucky follows the “but for” test for actual cause and the foreseeability test for proximate cause.


  • Definition: Actual loss or harm suffered by the plaintiff.
  • Kentucky Law: The plaintiff must show they suffered compensable injury as a result of the defendant’s breach.

Strict Liability

  • Definition: Liability that does not depend on actual negligence or intent to harm but is based on the breach of an absolute duty to make something safe.
  • Kentucky Law: Kentucky recognizes strict liability for inherently dangerous activities, such as use of explosives or keeping wild animals.

Defenses to Torts

Comparative Negligence

  • Kentucky Law: Kentucky follows a pure comparative negligence system where the plaintiff’s recovery is reduced by their percentage of fault but they can recover even if they are more at fault than the defendant.


  • Definition: Plaintiff’s willingness for the defendant to engage in the conduct that otherwise would be a tort.
  • Kentucky Law: Consent can be an absolute defense, but it must be given voluntarily and knowingly.


  • Definition: An action that would normally be a tort may not be actionable if it falls within a privilege.
  • Kentucky Law: Privileges in Kentucky include self-defense, defense of others, and defense of property.


  • Kentucky Law: Certain parties, such as governmental entities, may have immunity from tort actions under specific circumstances.

Product Liability

  • Definition: Liability of manufacturers, wholesalers, or retailers for injuries caused by defective products.
  • Kentucky Law: Product liability may be based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty.

Kentucky-Specific Tort Concepts

Medical Malpractice

  • Kentucky Law: Medical malpractice in Kentucky follows the general principles of negligence, requiring a duty of care, breach, causation, and damages but must be established with expert medical testimony.

Premises Liability

  • Kentucky Law: Owners and occupiers of property owe different duties of care to entrants on their land depending on the entrant’s status (invitee, licensee, or trespasser).

Emotional Distress

  • Kentucky Law: For claims of negligent infliction of emotional distress, Kentucky requires a showing of physical impact or, if there is none, proof that the emotional distress was serious and resulted from a reasonable fear of injury to oneself.

Notable Kentucky Tort Cases

Case Law Example: Hilen v. Hays (2005)

  • Facts: A car accident occurred allegedly due to Hays’s negligence.
  • Issue: Whether Kentucky’s pure comparative negligence rule applies.
  • Rule: Kentucky follows a pure comparative negligence system.
  • Analysis: The court considered each party’s fault and allocated damages accordingly.
  • Conclusion: Hays was found to be negligent, but damages were reduced by the percentage of Hilen’s fault.

Case Law Example: Osborne v. Keeney (2012)

  • Facts: A patient alleged medical malpractice against a healthcare provider.
  • Issue: The necessity of expert testimony in a medical malpractice case.
  • Rule: Expert medical testimony is required to establish the standard of care and breach in medical malpractice cases.
  • Analysis: The court looked at whether the evidence presented required specialized knowledge beyond that of an average person.
  • Conclusion: The court held that expert testimony was necessary to support the claim.


This study guide outlines key tort concepts and laws specific to Kentucky, including definitions, applications, and notable cases. Understanding the principles of tort law and how they are interpreted in Kentucky is crucial for analyzing legal scenarios and preparing for the final semester exam.

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