Exam: In Class.
Tort law defines the parameters of civil liability for infliction of bodily injury, property damage, emotional distress, or economic harm. In a tort action, the plaintiff seeks redress for harm from the defendant, typically in the form of monetary compensation. To succeed, the victim must satisfy all of the key elements of a tort action by establishing that a duty was owed and breached, that the breach caused the victim’s harm, that the harm has produced measurable damages, and that there is no affirmative defense that would bar or reduce recovery.
With respect to duty, the class will examine when a duty is owed, what the nature of the duty is, and whether the duty was breached. In defining the nature of the duty, we will consider claims for both negligence and strict liability. In analyzing causation, we will look at but-for and proximate cause as distinct ways to limit legal responsibility for the consequences of a tortfeasor’s actions. We will evaluate different kinds of damages, both compensatory and punitive, that can be awarded, and we will consider the challenges of attaching a value to a wide range of harms, both tangible and intangible. Finally, with respect to defenses, we will analyze contributory negligence, comparative negligence, and assumption of risk as ways to argue that the victim’s own behavior should bar or reduce recovery. As we explore these doctrinal questions, we will link them systematically to the objectives of deterring tortious behavior, compensating victims, and reaching morally equitable results.