North Carolina Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

North Carolina Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

I. Introduction to Torts
A. Definition of Torts – Torts are civil wrongs that cause harm or loss, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act.
B. Purpose of Tort Law – Compensate victims, deter harmful behavior, and encourage socially responsible behavior.

II. Intentional Torts
A. Assault and Battery
1. Assault – An act creating a reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact.
2. Battery – Intentional and wrongful physical contact with a person without their consent that results in injury.
3. Case Law: Fisher v. Carrousel Motor Hotel, Inc. – A battery can occur even without physical contact if the plaintiff’s personal dignity is offended.

B. False Imprisonment
1. The unlawful restraint of a person against their will.
2. Case Law: Whittaker v. Sanford – The plaintiff must be aware of the confinement or harmed by it.

C. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
1. Extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causing severe emotional distress.
2. Case Law: Harris v. Jones – North Carolina recognizes this tort, and the distress must be severe.

D. Trespass to Land
1. The unauthorized and intentional entry onto land possessed by another.
2. Case Law: Dougherty v. Stepp – A trespass need not cause damage to be actionable.

E. Trespass to Chattels and Conversion
1. Trespass to Chattels – Intentionally interfering with another’s use or possession of personal property without consent.
2. Conversion – Any act of dominion wrongfully exerted over another’s personal property in denial of or inconsistent with their rights.
3. Case Law: Pearson v. Dodd – Taking information without permission from personal documents can be considered conversion or trespass to chattels if the plaintiff can prove actual harm.

III. Negligence
A. Duty
1. The obligation to conform to a standard of conduct for the protection of others against unreasonable risks.
2. Case Law: Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. – Duty is determined by foreseeability; owed to those in the “zone of danger.”

B. Breach of Duty
1. Failure to meet the standard of care which a reasonable person would have met under similar circumstances.
2. Case Law: Blyth v. Birmingham Waterworks Co. – Breach is based on what a reasonable person would have foreseen and done.

C. Causation
1. Actual Cause (Cause in Fact) – The defendant’s conduct actually caused the harm.
2. Proximate Cause (Legal Cause) – Limitation on actual cause; was the harm a foreseeable result of the conduct?
3. Case Law: McClenaghan v. Cooley – North Carolina recognizes the “substantial factor” test for actual causation.

D. Damages
1. Actual loss or harm suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the defendant’s conduct.
2. Case Law: Dailey v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist. – Damages are not presumed in negligence cases and must be proven by the plaintiff.

E. Defenses to Negligence
1. Contributory Negligence – North Carolina follows the pure contributory negligence rule, barring recovery if the plaintiff contributed to their own injury.
2. Assumption of Risk – Plaintiff knowingly and voluntarily engages in a risky activity.
3. Comparative Negligence – Not applicable in North Carolina due to contributory negligence.

IV. Strict Liability
A. Abnormally Dangerous Activities
1. Liability for harm resulting from abnormally dangerous activities, regardless of precautions taken.
2. Case Law: Rylands v. Fletcher – Liability for damage from unnatural use of land.

B. Products Liability
1. Manufacturers and sellers can be held strictly liable for defective products that cause injury.
2. Case Law: Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, Inc. – Plaintiff must prove the product was defective, the defect existed when it left the defendant’s control, and the defect caused the injury.

V. Defamation
A. Libel and Slander
1. Libel – Written or published defamatory statements.
2. Slander – Spoken defamatory statements.
B. Elements of Defamation
1. A false and defamatory statement concerning another.
2. An unprivileged publication to a third party.
3. Fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher.
4. Damage to the plaintiff.
C. Case Law: Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. – The standard of fault the plaintiff must prove depends on whether they are a private or public figure.

VI. Privacy Torts
A. Invasion of Privacy
1. Appropriation of one’s likeness.
2. Intrusion upon seclusion.
3. Public disclosure of private facts.
4. False light.

VII. Nuisance
A. Public Nuisance
1. An unreasonable interference with a right common to the general public.
B. Private Nuisance
1. A substantial and unreasonable interference with the private use and enjoyment of land.

VIII. Vicarious Liability
A. Respondeat Superior
1. Employers are liable for torts committed by employees while acting within the scope of employment.

IX. Review of North Carolina Tort Law
A. North Carolina follows the traditional common law approach to torts, with some modifications such as pure contributory negligence.
B. Understanding North Carolina-specific tort law nuances is crucial for legal practice within the state.

This study guide provides a foundational understanding of tort law in North Carolina, but students should supplement this guide with readings from the casebook, statutory law, and class notes for a comprehensive review. Regular review of topics, case briefs, and hypothetical problem-solving will be key to success on the final exam.

Discover more from Legal Three

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading