Nebraska Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Nebraska Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Torts Overview:
Torts law revolves around civil wrongs that cause harm or loss, leading to legal liability. In torts, a plaintiff seeks to obtain a remedy, usually in the form of monetary compensation (damages) for harm caused by the defendant’s actions or omissions.

Intentional Torts:
– Assault: An act that puts a reasonable person in fear of imminent harmful or offensive contact.
– Battery: Intentional and wrongful physical contact with a person without their consent.
– False Imprisonment: Intentionally confining a person within fixed boundaries without legal justification.
– Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED): Extreme and outrageous conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress.
– Trespass to Land: Intentional entry onto the land of another without permission or legal right.
– Trespass to Chattels: Intentionally interfering with the use or possession of personal property without consent or legal justification.
– Conversion: Intentional exercise of dominion or control over another’s personal property which so seriously interferes with the right of another to control it that the actor may justly be required to pay the full value of the item.

– Duty: The obligation to conform to a standard of care.
– Breach: Failure to meet the standard of care.
– Causation: The breach must cause the plaintiff’s harm.
– Actual Cause (Cause in Fact): “But for” the defendant’s actions, the harm would not have occurred.
– Proximate Cause (Legal Cause): Limitation on liability to consequences that bear some reasonable relationship to the risk created by the defendant’s conduct.
– Damages: Compensation for harm suffered by the plaintiff.

Product Liability:
– Strict Liability: Holding a manufacturer or seller liable for placing a defective product in the hands of a consumer regardless of fault.
– Negligence: Failure to exercise reasonable care in the manufacture or sale of a product.
– Warranty: Promise or representation made regarding the quality or type of product.

Defenses to Torts:
– Consent: The plaintiff agreed to the act that resulted in harm.
– Self-defense: The use of reasonable force to protect oneself from harm.
– Defense of Others: The use of reasonable force to protect another from harm.
– Defense of Property: The use of reasonable force to protect one’s property.
– Necessity: Conduct that would otherwise be a tort may be excused if the defendant acted out of necessity.

Privacy Torts:
– Intrusion upon Seclusion: Intentionally intruding upon another’s solitude or private affairs.
– Public Disclosure of Private Facts: Making public private information about someone that would be offensive to a reasonable person.
– False Light: Publicly attributing to someone characteristics that are false, creating an impression that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.
– Appropriation: Using another’s name or likeness for commercial purposes without permission.

Causation in Nebraska:
Under Nebraska law, causation generally follows the traditional principles of actual and proximate cause. However, Nebraska has also adopted the concept of comparative negligence, which reduces the damages a plaintiff can recover based on their percentage of fault, provided their fault is 50% or less.

Case Law Examples (IRAC Format):

Garratt v. Dailey (1955)
Issue: Whether a five-year-old boy could be held liable for battery when he pulled a chair out from under the plaintiff, causing her to fall.
Rule: Battery requires an intention to cause harmful or offensive contact.
Analysis: Even though the boy may not have intended to hurt the plaintiff, he knew with substantial certainty that she would attempt to sit down where the chair had been.
Conclusion: The court held that the boy could be held liable for battery because he had the necessary intent.

Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (1928)
Issue: Whether the railroad was liable for injuries to a distant bystander caused by the unforeseeable explosion of fireworks.
Rule: A defendant is only liable for harm that is within the reasonably foreseeable zone of danger.
Analysis: The harm to the plaintiff was not a foreseeable result of the railroad employees’ actions in assisting a man with a package of fireworks.
Conclusion: The court held that the railroad was not liable because the plaintiff was outside the zone of danger and the harm was not foreseeable.

Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, Inc. (1963)
Issue: Whether a manufacturer can be held strictly liable for injuries caused by a defective product.
Rule: Manufacturers are strictly liable for injuries caused by defects in their products.
Analysis: The plaintiff was injured by a defective power tool, and there was no need to prove negligence on the part of the manufacturer.
Conclusion: The court held the manufacturer strictly liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

These concepts and cases form the foundation of a comprehensive study guide for a 1L Torts course in Nebraska. Students should familiarize themselves with the principles, apply them to hypothetical fact patterns, and be ready to discuss policy implications of tort law and its application in Nebraska.

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