Oregon Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Study Guide: Oregon Law School 1L Torts


Torts law is a broad area of law that involves various civil wrongs. It allows individuals who have suffered harm to seek compensation from those who have caused it. This guide will delve into specifics applicable to the state of Oregon.


Intentional torts refer to harms that the defendant intentionally caused, which includes assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, trespass to land, and trespass to chattels.

A. Battery

Battery involves intentionally causing harmful or offensive contact with the person of another. The intent required is not an intent to cause harm, but an intent to cause the contact.

Case: Bolduc v. Bailey, 352 Or 632 (2012): The plaintiff was injured when a police officer pushed him down a flight of stairs. The court found that the officer had committed a battery, as he intended the contact that caused harm.

B. Assault

Assault is intentionally causing apprehension of harmful or offensive contact. Unlike battery, contact is not necessary; just the fear or apprehension is enough.

Case: Hall v. May Dept. Stores Co., 292 Or 131 (1981): The court held that a store security guard’s actions constituted an assault. The plaintiff was in apprehension of harmful contact when the guard drew a knife and advanced towards him.

C. False Imprisonment

False imprisonment refers to the intentional confinement of a person without their consent and without lawful privilege.

Case: Spera v. Multnomah County, 81 Or App 535 (1986): The court found that the plaintiff was falsely imprisoned when he was detained by the police without probable cause.

D. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

IIED is caused when a defendant intentionally or recklessly inflicts severe emotional distress by extreme and outrageous conduct.

Case: Brewer v. Erwin, 287 Or 435 (1979): The court found that the defendant had committed IIED when he made repeated and severe racist comments to the plaintiff.


Negligence is the failure to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would have used under the same circumstances.

A. Duty of Care

The first element of negligence is the duty of care, where the defendant has a legal obligation to act in a certain way towards the plaintiff.

B. Breach of Duty

The second element of negligence is a breach of the duty of care, where the defendant fails to meet the standard of care required.

C. Causation

The plaintiff must show that the defendant’s breach of duty was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

Case: Fazzolari v. Portland School Dist. No. 1J, 303 Or 1 (1987): The Supreme Court of Oregon held that the school district breached its duty to a student who was sexually assaulted by another student.


Strict liability applies when a defendant is held liable regardless of intent or negligence. In Oregon, it primarily applies to defects in products or engaging in abnormally dangerous activities.

Case: Phillips v. Kimwood Machine Co., 269 Or 485 (1974): The court held that a manufacturer could be held strictly liable for a defect in its product that caused injury to the plaintiff.


There are various defenses a defendant can raise in response to a tort claim, including consent, self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, privilege, necessity, and comparative negligence.

A. Comparative Negligence

Oregon applies a modified form of comparative negligence. If a plaintiff is found to be 51% or more at fault, they cannot recover damages.

Case: McCathern v. Toyota Motor Corp., 332 Or 59 (2001): The court applied the state’s comparative negligence law, finding that the plaintiff was 60% responsible for his injuries due to his failure to wear a seatbelt, which barred recovery.


Damages in tort cases can include compensatory damages, punitive damages, and nominal damages. Oregon has a cap on non-economic damages (pain and suffering) in personal injury cases set at $500,000.

Case: Horton v. OHSU, 359 Or 168 (2016): The Supreme Court of Oregon upheld the cap on non-economic damages in a medical malpractice suit.

This guide provides a general overview of tort law in Oregon. It is essential to consider other sources, class notes, and individual course materials for a comprehensive understanding of the subject.

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