Ohio Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

I. Introduction to Torts

A tort is a civil wrong causing harm to another person, where the law provides a remedy. Torts can be classified into intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability.

II. Intentional Torts

Intentional torts require an act by a defendant who desires to bring about harmful or offensive contact or imminent apprehension of such contact. Key intentional torts in Ohio are Battery, Assault, False Imprisonment, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.

A. Battery

Battery is the intentional harmful or offensive touching of another without consent. For battery to occur, the defendant must have intent and there must be harmful or offensive contact.

Case law: Morgan v. Church’s Fried Chicken (1985): A woman suffered burns from a cup of coffee spilled on her by an employee. The court found no intent, thus no battery.

B. Assault

Assault is the intentional act causing the victim to apprehend harmful or offensive contact. The fear of imminent harm is crucial.

Case law: Cullison v. Medley (1993): The court held that pointing a gun at another without the intent to harm, but with the knowledge that it will cause fear, is assault.

C. False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is the intentional confinement of another person within fixed boundaries against their consent.

Case law: Big Town Nursing Home, Inc. v. Newman (1978): The court found the nursing home liable for false imprisonment for restricting a resident’s freedom of movement without a valid reason.

D. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Intentional infliction of emotional distress involves extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causing severe emotional distress.

Case law: Yeager v. Local Union 20 (1983): Union’s intentional harassment of a non-union truck driver was considered outrageous conduct causing severe emotional distress.

III. Negligence

Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person. Elements include duty, breach, causation, and damage.

A. Duty and Breach

The defendant owes a duty of care to the plaintiff under circumstances where harm might foreseeably result from the defendant’s conduct. The breach is a violation of that duty.

Case law: Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (1928): Landmark case establishing the concept of foreseeability in determining duty.

B. Causation

The defendant’s breach of duty must be both the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

Case law: Strother v. Hutchinson (1956): The court found that the defendant’s carelessness was the proximate cause of a car accident, and thus he was liable for negligence.

C. Damages

The plaintiff must suffer actual harm or damage as a result of the defendant’s negligence.

Case law: Biddle v. Warren General Hospital (1999): The Ohio Supreme Court held that a plaintiff claiming negligence must show actual harm or injury.

IV. Strict Liability

Strict liability holds a defendant liable for harm without a need to demonstrate negligence. In Ohio, strict liability applies mainly to abnormally dangerous activities and defective products.

A. Abnormally Dangerous Activities

Abnormally dangerous activities are those that cannot be performed without risk of harm, regardless of all reasonable care.

Case law: Huffman v. E. Ohio Gas Co. (1934): The court found the gas company strictly liable for damages caused by its inherently dangerous activity.

B. Products Liability

Ohio has adopted Section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts for strict liability in tort for defective products.

Case law: Temple v. Wean United, Inc. (1977): The Ohio Supreme Court adopted the strict liability design defects standard for product liability cases.

This guide provides a broad overview of the material covered in a Torts class focusing on Ohio law. Case law, statutes, and restatements should be studied in more depth to fully understand the concepts.

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