BU LA 245 - Chapter 6: Tortes

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Chapter 6: Tortes: a violation of a duty imposed by the civil law (it’s up to the injured party toseek compensation).- Difference b/w Contract, Tort, and Criminal Law.- Intentional torts: harm caused by a deliberate action (regardless if harm is intended, aslong as the act is intended; see the snow ball example)o Defamation (written: libel, spoken: slander) Elements of a defamation cast that must be proved true to win a lawsuit:- Defamatory statement: this is a statement likely to harm anotherperson’s reputation.- Falseness: the statement must be false.- Communicated: the statement must be communicated to at leastone person other than the plaintiff.- Injury: the plaintiff generally must show some injury. But in thecase of Slander per se (slander involving false statements aboutsexual behavior, crimes, and professional abilities), the law iswilling to assume injury w/o requiring the plaintiff to prove it. Opinion: harsh opinions could be hard to count liable as libel/slander. Public Personalities: the rules of the game change for those who play inthe open. Gov. officials and other types of public figures such as actorsand athletes receive less protection from defamation. - New York Times Co. v. Sullivan: a public official or figure canwin a defamation case only by providing actual malice by thedefendant. That means the defendant knew the statement wasfalse or acted with reckless disregard of the truth. Showing thatthe defendant newspaper printed incorrect statements, even verydamaging ones, will not suffice to win the suit unless he hadshown that Times knew the accusation was false. Online Defamation: Communications Decency Act (CDA) createsimmunity for an Internet service provider. Absolute Privilege: a witness testifying in a court or legislature maynever be sued for defamation. o False Imprisonment: the intentional restraint of another person w/o reasonablecause and w/o consent. Most commonly in retail stores which detain employees or customers forsuspected theft. Generally, a store may detain a customer or worker foralleged shoplifting provided there is a reasonable basis for the suspicionand the detention is done reasonably.o Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress: an intentional tort in which the harmresults from extreme and outrageous conduct that causes serious emotional harm. Jane Doe and Nancy Roe v. Lynn Mills- An anti-abortion protestor, Robert Thomas, found doc.Indicating that the plaintiffs were soon to have abortions from adumpster. Thomas gave the info to Lynn Mills who then withSister Lois Mitoraj created signs, using the women’s names,indicating that they were about to undergo abortions, and urgingthem not to “kill the babies”. Doe and Roe sued claimingintentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial courtdismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the defendants’ conduct wasnot extreme and outrageous. The plaintiffs appealed.- Have the plaintiff made a valid claim of intentional infliction ofemotional distress?- While the defendants have a constitutional right to “protestpeaceably against abortion”, the defendants’ conduct doesn’trelate to their views on abortion or their right to express thoseviews, but rather, to the fact that defendants gave unreasonableor unnecessary publicity to purely private matters involvingplaintiffs. Summary judgment for the defendants is reversed,and the case is remanded for trial.o Additional Intentional Torts Battery: an intentional touching (e.g. spitting, touching through a mutualobject) of another person in a way that is harmful or offensive. Thereneed be no intention to hurt the plaintiff. If the defendant intended to dothe physical act, and a reasonable plaintiff would be offended by it,battery has occurred. Assault: an act that makes a person reasonably fear an imminent battery.It is assault even though the battery never occurs. Fraud: injuring another person by deliberate deception.- Damageso Compensatory Damages: money intended to restore a plaintiff to the position hewas in before the injury (medical expenses + lost wages + pain and suffering).o Single recovery principle: requires a court to settle the matter once and for all, byawarding a lump sum for past and future expenses.o Punitive Damages: damages that are intended to punish the defendant for conductthat is extreme and outrageous. 3 guidepoints: The reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct The ratio b/w the harm suffered and the award The difference b/w the punitive award and any civil penalties used insimilar cases.o State Farm v. Campbell While attempting to pass several cars on a two-lane road, Campbelldrove into oncoming traffic. An innocent driver swerved to avoidCampbell and died in a collision with a third driver. The family of thedeceased driver and the surviving third driver both sued Campbell. AsCampbell’s insurer, State Farm represented him in the lawsuit. It turneddown an offer to settle the case for $50,000, the limit of Campbell’spolicy. The company had nothing to gain by settling b/c even ifCampbell lost big at trial, State Farm’s liability was capped at $50,000.A jury returned a judgment against Campbell for $185K. He wasresponsible for the $135K that exceeded his policy limit. He argued withState Farm, claiming that it should have settled the case. Eventually,State Farm paid the entire money but Campbell still sued the company,alleging fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Hislawyers presented evidence that State Farm had deliberately acted in itsown best interests rather than his. The jury was convicted, and in theend, Campbell won an award of $1 million in compensatory damagesand $145 million in punitive damages. State Farm appealed. What is the limit on punitive damages? Courts must ensure that the measure of punishment is both reasonableand proportionate to the amount of harm to the plaintiff and to thegeneral damages recovered. In the context of this case, we have no doubtthat there is a presumption against an award that has a 145-to-1 ratio.The compensatory award in the case was substantial. This was completecompensation. The harm arose from a transaction in the economic realm,not from some physical assault or trauma;


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