New Jersey Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

New Jersey Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Introduction to Torts

Torts are civil wrongs, as opposed to criminal offenses, that result in harm or injury to another party. Tort law aims to provide remedies to individuals harmed by the wrongful acts of others. This body of law is primarily common law, or judge-made law, although some statutes may apply.

Intentional Torts


Battery is the intentional and harmful or offensive contact with another person without consent. New Jersey recognizes battery as a harmful or offensive touching that is intentional and without justification or excuse.


An assault is an act that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent, harmful, or offensive contact. It involves the fear or expectation of a battery.

False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is the intentional confinement of an individual without lawful privilege and against their consent within a bounded area.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when one acts with extreme or outrageous conduct intending to cause, or recklessly disregarding the probability of causing, emotional distress.

Trespass to Land

Trespass to land involves entering onto, above, or below the surface of land owned by another without permission or legal authorization.

Trespass to Chattels

Trespass to chattels is the intentional interference with a person’s use or possession of personal property without consent or justification.


Conversion is the intentional exercise of dominion or control over another’s personal property that so seriously interferes with their right of control that it warrants the payment of the full value of the item.



Duty refers to the responsibility one has to avoid causing harm to another. In New Jersey, the duty of care is based on the reasonable person standard—what a reasonably careful person would do in like circumstances.


A breach of duty occurs when one fails to meet the standard of care, acting in a way that a reasonably prudent person would not.


Causation links breach of duty to the harm suffered. It includes ’cause in fact’ (but-for causation) and ‘proximate cause’ (legal causation).


Damages in negligence refer to the compensation required to make the injured party whole. New Jersey follows the comparative negligence rule, which reduces the damages an injured party can recover based on the percentage they are found at fault.

Strict Liability


Owners are strictly liable for harm caused by wild animals they keep and for harm caused by domestic animals with known dangerous propensities.

Abnormally Dangerous Activities

Individuals are strictly liable for harm resulting from abnormally dangerous activities that they undertake.

Defenses to Torts


Consent can be a defense if the injured party agreed to the conduct that resulted in harm.


Self-defense is a defense to an intentional tort if a person reasonably believes they are being threatened with immediate harm.

Defense of Others

Defense of others is similar to self-defense, but it is used to protect another person from harm.

Defense of Property

One may use reasonable force to defend their property, but generally not force that will cause bodily harm or death.


Necessity is a defense when a tort is committed to prevent a more significant harm.

Products Liability

Products liability refers to the responsibility of manufacturers and sellers for harm caused by defective products they place into the stream of commerce. New Jersey recognizes strict liability for defective products.


Defamation involves a false statement that injures another’s reputation. In New Jersey, public figures must prove actual malice to recover for defamation.

Privacy Torts

Privacy torts in New Jersey include intrusion upon seclusion, appropriation of likeness, public disclosure of private facts, and false light publicity.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is a statutory scheme in New Jersey that provides benefits to employees injured in the course of employment, regardless of fault.

Case Law

When studying case law, the IRAC format (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion) is used to analyze and synthesize judicial decisions. Here are examples of how to apply IRAC to landmark New Jersey tort cases:

Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (1928)

  • Issue: Whether the railroad was liable for injuries to Palsgraf when scales fell on her because of fireworks exploding.
  • Rule: A defendant owes a duty of care only to those who are in the reasonably foreseeable zone of danger.
  • Application: The harm to Palsgraf was not foreseeable by the railroad employees.
  • Conclusion: The railroad was not liable for Palsgraf’s injuries.

Scafidi v. Seiler (1988)

  • Issue: How to determine causation when a preexisting condition contributes to the harm.
  • Rule: A defendant is liable if negligent conduct was a substantial factor in exacerbating the harm.
  • Application: The doctor’s negligence need not be the sole cause but must be a substantial factor in the harm.
  • Conclusion: The case was remanded for a determination of whether the doctor’s negligence was a substantial factor.

Daloisio v. Peninsula Land Co. (1959)

  • Issue: Whether a landowner is responsible for injuries to a child trespasser.
  • Rule: Landowners owe a duty of care to children trespassing if an artificial condition on the land poses a risk.
  • Application: The landowner failed to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger or otherwise protect the children.
  • Conclusion: The landowner was liable for the child’s injuries.

This guide provides a basic overview of tort law in New Jersey, but students should also consult specific New Jersey statutes, the New Jersey Model Civil Jury Charges for Torts, and recent New Jersey Supreme Court decisions for the most current law. Additionally, students should engage with practice problems and past exam questions to test their understanding and application of these concepts.

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