Mississippi Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts
I. Introduction to Torts
– Torts are civil wrongs that cause harm to individuals or property.
– The primary aim of tort law is to provide relief to injured parties for harms caused by others, to impose liability on parties responsible for the harm, and to deter others from committing harmful acts.
II. Intentional Torts
– The intentional infliction of harmful or offensive contact with another person without consent.
– Case: Garratt v. Dailey (kid pulls chair from underneath someone, court looks at intent).
– An act intended to cause an apprehension of harmful or offensive contact.
– The apprehension must be reasonable, and the threat must be imminent.
C. False Imprisonment
– The intentional confinement of another person without lawful privilege and against their consent.
– Case: Whittaker v. Sanford (a person was lured and then detained on a boat).
D. Trespass to Land
– The intentional and unlawful entry onto someone else’s land.
– Mistake is not a defense to trespass.
E. Trespass to Chattels
– Intentionally interfering with another person’s use or possession of a chattel.
– Harm or dispossession is typically required.
– Intentional exercise of control over another’s chattel which seriously interferes with their right of control over it.
– Essentially, treating someone else’s property as your own.
G. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
– Extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causing severe emotional distress.
– Case: Harris v. Jones (plaintiff must show actual damages from distress).
H. Defense to Intentional Torts
– Consent, Self-Defense, Defense of Others, Defense of Property, Necessity (public and private).
– The legal obligation to conform one’s conduct to a particular standard of care.
– Case: Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (duty is owed to those who are foreseeably at risk due to the defendant’s conduct).
– Failure to meet the standard of care.
– The reasonable person standard is applied objectively.
1. Actual Cause (Cause in Fact)
– The “but for” test: but for the defendant’s actions, the harm would not have occurred.
2. Proximate Cause (Legal Cause)
– The extent to which, as a matter of policy, the defendant will be held liable for the consequences of his actions.
– Case: Overseas Tankship (U.K.) Ltd. v. Morts Dock & Engineering Co. Ltd. (The Wagon Mound) (foreseeability limits proximate cause).
– The plaintiff must show actual loss or damage to person or property.
E. Defenses to Negligence
– Comparative negligence (Mississippi follows pure comparative negligence which allows a damaged party to recover even if it is 99% at fault, but the recovery is reduced by the damaged party’s degree of fault).
– Assumption of risk (plaintiff knowingly and voluntarily assumes a risk of harm connected with the negligence of the defendant).
F. Negligence Per Se
– Violation of a statute that causes harm to a member of the class that the statute was intended to protect.
– Case: Tedla v. Ellman (court declined to apply negligence per se where doing so would not promote the purpose of the statute).
IV. Strict Liability
– Liability without fault.
A. Abnormally Dangerous Activities
– Strict liability is imposed for harms resulting from abnormally dangerous activities (such as blasting operations).
– Owners are strictly liable for harm caused by wild animals and usually for trespassing domestic animals.
V. Product Liability
– Liability of a manufacturer, seller, or other supplier of chattels to a consumer for injuries caused by a defective product.
A. Strict Product Liability
– Liability for selling any defective product that is unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer.
– Restatement (Second) of Torts: Section 402A applies.
B. Defenses to Product Liability
– Assumption of risk, product misuse, and comparative fault.
VI. Damages in Tort Law
A. Compensatory Damages
– Intended to restore the plaintiff to the position they were in before the tort occurred.
B. Punitive Damages
– Intended to punish the defendant for egregious conduct and deter future misconduct.
– Mississippi caps punitive damages based on the defendant’s net worth.
– The action of damaging the good reputation of someone through slander or libel.
– A defamatory statement, publication to a third party, fault amounting to at least negligence, and damage to the plaintiff’s reputation.
– Truth, the statements are opinion, privilege (absolute and qualified).
VIII. Privacy Torts
– Intrusion upon seclusion, appropriation of name or likeness, publication of private facts, false light.
IX. Economic Torts
– Torts that cause economic harm, such as tortious interference with a contract or business expectancy.
X. Misc Torts
– Nuisance (public and private), misrepresentation, and fraud.
This study guide provides a framework of the tort concepts typically covered during a 1L Torts class, with an emphasis on Mississippi law where it differs from general U.S. tort law principles. It is important to also review the Mississippi Civil Practice Code, local statutes, and recent case law to understand specific nuances and recent updates in the tort law applicable to Mississippi.