South Carolina Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts


Torts are civil wrongs that cause someone to suffer loss or harm. The law of torts aims to compensate victims for their losses. In South Carolina, tort law is primarily made up of doctrines that emerge from state court decisions, as well as state statutes.


Intentional torts occur when a person intentionally acts in a way that causes harm to another. Examples include assault and battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, trespass, and conversion.

A. Assault and Battery: The elements of assault are an intentional act, causing apprehension of harmful or offensive contact, and apparent ability to cause such contact. Battery requires an intentional act, harmful or offensive contact, and lack of consent.

Case: Cullum v. Seay (1968) – Court ruled that an intentional act that places another person in fear of imminent bodily harm constitutes assault.

B. False Imprisonment: This involves intentional restriction of someone’s freedom of movement without their consent and without lawful authority.

Case: Mims v. Stewart Title Guaranty Co. (2006) – The court held that the plaintiff could sue for false imprisonment based on a wrongful foreclosure and lockout.

C. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED): IIED can occur when someone’s intentional conduct is so outrageous and extreme that it causes severe emotional distress to another.

Case: Ford v. Hutson (1978) – The court held that extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causing severe emotional distress can give rise to liability.


Negligence is the failure to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would have used under similar circumstances. It involves four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages.

A. Duty: The defendant has a legal responsibility to the plaintiff. In South Carolina, the injured party can recover if the defendant owed a duty of care and failed to act reasonably.

B. Breach: The defendant violated that duty by not acting reasonably.

C. Causation: The defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injury.

D. Damages: The plaintiff suffered a legally recognized harm.

Case: Bloom v. Ravoira (1979) – The court held that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, breached that duty by failing to inspect the tire properly, and this breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.


Strict liability holds a defendant liable for harm without fault. It is often applied in cases involving abnormally dangerous activities, defective products, and certain animal behaviors.

Case: Shook v. Black (1996) – Known as the “dog bite case”, this established that owners are strictly liable for the behavior of their pets, even if the owner had no reason to believe the pet was dangerous.


There are several defenses to tort claims, including consent, self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, necessity, and comparative negligence.

Case: Berberich v. Jack (2003) – The defendant can use comparative negligence as a defense in South Carolina. In this case, the court held that the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to his injury, reducing the amount he could recover.


There are three types of damages in tort law: compensatory damages, punitive damages, and nominal damages.

Case: Gamble v. Stevenson (1993) – The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that punitive damages could be awarded in negligence cases as well as intentional tort cases.

This study guide provides an overview of key concepts, cases, and principles in South Carolina tort law. It should be used in conjunction with class lectures, textbooks, and other study materials to prepare for the final exam.

Discover more from Legal Three

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

Continue reading