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Torts: Cases, Principles, and Institutions

Table of contents
Chapter One. AN INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN TORT LAW
1.1 - Principles and Institutions
1.2 - An Introductory Case: The Tort of Battery
1.2.1 - Vosburg v. Putney
1.2.2 - Anatomy of a Torts Case
1.2.3 - The Pervasiveness of Settlement
1.2.4 - The Size of the Tort System
1.2.5 - Accident Rates and the Deterrence Goal
1.2.6 - Intent and Corrective Justice in the Battery Cause of Action
1.2.7 - Garratt v. Dailey
Chapter Two. INTENTIONALLY INFLICTED PHYSICAL HARMS
2.1 - Trespass
2.1.1 - Trespass to Land
2.1.2 - Trespass to Chattels
2.2 - Defenses to Trespass
2.2.1 - Self-Defense
2.2.2 - Defense of Real Property
2.2.3 - Defense of Chattels
2.2.4 - Consent
2.2.5 - Necessity (Revised)
2.3 - Emotional and Dignitary Harms: The Example of Assault
Chapter Three. STRICT LIABILITY AND NEGLIGENCE: HISTORY AND INTRODUCTION
3.1 - Common Law Beginnings
3.2 - Negligence Versus Strict Liability
Chapter Four. THE NEGLIGENCE STANDARD
4.1 - The Reasonable Person
4.1.1 - Introduction
4.1.2 - Physical Traits
4.1.3 - Children
4.1.4 - Mental Illness
4.1.5 - Rationales for Choosing Between Subjective and Objective?
4.1.6 - Unreasonable Faiths?
4.1.7 - Unreasonable Women?
4.2 - Cost / Benefit Calculations and the Learned Hand Formula
4.2.1 - Negligence Basics
4.2.2 - Critiques of Cost-Benefit Reasoning
4.2.3 - In Defense of Cost-Benefit Reasoning
4.2.4 - The Logic of Cost-Benefit
4.2.5 - Claim Resolution in the Real World
4.3 - Judges and Juries
4.4 - Custom
4.4.1 - The Basic Rule—and Its Functions
4.4.2 - Custom and Medical Malpractice Cases
4.5 - Statutes and Regulations
4.5.1 - Violations of Statutory Standards
4.5.2 - A Regulatory Compliance Defense?
4.5.3 - Torts in the Modern State: Implied Private Causes of Action
4.6 - Proof of Negligence
4.6.1 - The Basic Problem
4.6.2 - Res Ipsa Loquitur
4.6.3 - Federal Constitutional Constraints on the Burden of Proof
4.6.4 - A Note on Settlement Mills
4.6.5 - Aggregation and Sampling by Bellwether Trials
4.7 - Negligence Puzzles
4.7.1 - Should Wealth Matter?
4.7.2 - Seavey’s Paradox
4.7.3 - The Utility Monster
Chapter Five. PLAINTIFFS’ CONDUCT
5.1 - Contributory and Comparative Negligence
5.1.1 - Contributory Negligence
5.1.2 - Comparative Negligence
5.2 - Assumption of Risk
5.2.1 - Implied Assumption of Risk
5.2.2 - Express Assumption of the Risk
Chapter Six. CAUSATION
6.1 - Causation: An Introduction
6.2 - Causation-in-Fact
6.3 - Lost Chances and Indeterminate Plaintiffs
6.4 - The Problem of Multiple Tortfeasors
6.5 - Alternative Liability and Indeterminate Defendants
6.6 - Causation Beyond Torts
6.6.1 - The Criminal Law
6.6.2 - Employment Discrimination
6.6.3 - Environmental Law
6.6.4 - Securities Litigation
6.6.5 - Psychological Conventions around Causation
Chapter Seven. PROXIMATE (“LEGAL”) CAUSE
7.1 - Introduction
7.2 - Unexpected Harm
7.3 - Unexpected Manner
7.4 - Unexpected Person
7.5 - Completely Unexpected?
7.6 - Proximate Cause Beyond Torts
7.6.1 - Proximate Cause and Criminal Law
7.6.2 - Proximate Cause and Consequential Damages
Chapter Eight. THE DUTY PROBLEM
8.1 - Is There a Duty to Rescue?
8.1.1 - Cases
8.1.2 - Liability for Good Samaritans?
8.2 - Landowners and Occupiers
8.3 - Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
8.4 - To Whom Does a Defendant Owe a Duty?
8.4.1 - The Duty Debate (Part 1)
8.4.2 - Cases and Materials
8.4.3 - The Duty Debate (Part 2)
8.5 - Pure Economic Loss
8.6 - Relational Interests
8.6.1 - Spouses
8.6.2 - Children
8.6.3 - Unmarried partners
8.7 - Tort Immunities
8.7.1 - Intrafamilial Immunities
8.7.2 - Charitable Immunity
8.7.3 - Employers’ Immunity
8.7.4 - Sovereign Immunity
8.7.5 - Government Officer Immunity
8.7.6 - Statutory Immunity
8.7.7 - Wartime and National Security Immunities
8.7.8 - Immunity Reconsidered
Chapter Nine. MODERN NON-FAULT LIABILITY?
9.1 - Vicarious Liability
9.2 - Abnormally Dangerous Activities
9.3 - Nuisance
9.3.1 - Private Nuisance
9.3.2 - Public Nuisance
9.4 - Strict Liability for Products?
9.4.1 - Beginnings
9.4.2 - Manufacturing Defects
9.4.3 - Design Defects
9.4.4 - Warning Defects
9.4.5 - The Preemption Question
Chapter Ten. DAMAGES
10.1 - Compensatory Damages
10.1.1 - Pecuniary Damages
10.1.2 - Nonpecuniary Damages
10.1.3 - Environmental Damages
10.1.4 - Death Cases
10.2 - Damages in Practice
10.2.1 - Plaintiffs’ Lawyers and the Contingency Fee
10.2.2 - The Role of Defendants’ Insurance
10.2.3 - Subrogation; or, The Role of Plaintiffs’ Insurance
10.2.4 - The “Bronx Jury” Effect
10.2.5 - Beyond Dollars
10.2.6 - The Death of Liability?
10.3 - Mass Settlements
10.3.1 - The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
10.3.2 - Aggregation: Class Actions and their Limits
10.3.3 - The Vioxx Settlement
10.3.4 - The BP Oil Spill
10.3.5 - State Attorneys General
10.4 - Punitive Damages
Torts: Cases, Principles, and Institutions
3rd Edition
John Fabian Witt
Table Of Contents
  • Introduction - Torts: Cases, Principles, and Institutions
  • Chapter One - AN INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN TORT LAW
    • 1.1 - Principles and Institutions
    • 1.2 - An Introductory Case: The Tort of Battery
      • 1.2.1 - Vosburg v. Putney
      • 1.2.2 - Anatomy of a Torts Case
      • 1.2.3 - The Pervasiveness of Settlement
      • 1.2.4 - The Size of the Tort System
      • 1.2.5 - Accident Rates and the Deterrence Goal
      • 1.2.6 - Intent and Corrective Justice in the Battery Cause of Action
      • 1.2.7 - Garratt v. Dailey
  • Chapter Two - INTENTIONALLY INFLICTED PHYSICAL HARMS
    • 2.1 - Trespass
      • 2.1.1 - Trespass to Land
      • 2.1.2 - Trespass to Chattels
    • 2.2 - Defenses to Trespass
      • 2.2.1 - Self-Defense
      • 2.2.2 - Defense of Real Property
      • 2.2.3 - Defense of Chattels
      • 2.2.4 - Consent
      • 2.2.5 - Necessity (Revised)
    • 2.3 - Emotional and Dignitary Harms: The Example of Assault
  • Chapter Three - STRICT LIABILITY AND NEGLIGENCE: HISTORY AND INTRODUCTION
    • 3.1 - Common Law Beginnings
    • 3.2 - Negligence Versus Strict Liability
  • Chapter Four - THE NEGLIGENCE STANDARD
    • 4.1 - The Reasonable Person
      • 4.1.1 - Introduction
      • 4.1.2 - Physical Traits
      • 4.1.3 - Children
      • 4.1.4 - Mental Illness
      • 4.1.5 - Rationales for Choosing Between Subjective and Objective?
      • 4.1.6 - Unreasonable Faiths?
      • 4.1.7 - Unreasonable Women?
    • 4.2 - Cost / Benefit Calculations and the Learned Hand Formula
      • 4.2.1 - Negligence Basics
      • 4.2.2 - Critiques of Cost-Benefit Reasoning
      • 4.2.3 - In Defense of Cost-Benefit Reasoning
      • 4.2.4 - The Logic of Cost-Benefit
      • 4.2.5 - Claim Resolution in the Real World
    • 4.3 - Judges and Juries
    • 4.4 - Custom
      • 4.4.1 - The Basic Rule—and Its Functions
      • 4.4.2 - Custom and Medical Malpractice Cases
    • 4.5 - Statutes and Regulations
      • 4.5.1 - Violations of Statutory Standards
      • 4.5.2 - A Regulatory Compliance Defense?
      • 4.5.3 - Torts in the Modern State: Implied Private Causes of Action
    • 4.6 - Proof of Negligence
      • 4.6.1 - The Basic Problem
      • 4.6.2 - Res Ipsa Loquitur
      • 4.6.3 - Federal Constitutional Constraints on the Burden of Proof
      • 4.6.4 - A Note on Settlement Mills
      • 4.6.5 - Aggregation and Sampling by Bellwether Trials
    • 4.7 - Negligence Puzzles
      • 4.7.1 - Should Wealth Matter?
      • 4.7.2 - Seavey’s Paradox
      • 4.7.3 - The Utility Monster
  • Chapter Five - PLAINTIFFS’ CONDUCT
    • 5.1 - Contributory and Comparative Negligence
      • 5.1.1 - Contributory Negligence
      • 5.1.2 - Comparative Negligence
    • 5.2 - Assumption of Risk
      • 5.2.1 - Implied Assumption of Risk
      • 5.2.2 - Express Assumption of the Risk
  • Chapter Six - CAUSATION
    • 6.1 - Causation: An Introduction
    • 6.2 - Causation-in-Fact
    • 6.3 - Lost Chances and Indeterminate Plaintiffs
    • 6.4 - The Problem of Multiple Tortfeasors
    • 6.5 - Alternative Liability and Indeterminate Defendants
    • 6.6 - Causation Beyond Torts
      • 6.6.1 - The Criminal Law
      • 6.6.2 - Employment Discrimination
      • 6.6.3 - Environmental Law
      • 6.6.4 - Securities Litigation
      • 6.6.5 - Psychological Conventions around Causation
  • Chapter Seven - PROXIMATE (“LEGAL”) CAUSE
    • 7.1 - Introduction
    • 7.2 - Unexpected Harm
    • 7.3 - Unexpected Manner
    • 7.4 - Unexpected Person
    • 7.5 - Completely Unexpected?
    • 7.6 - Proximate Cause Beyond Torts
      • 7.6.1 - Proximate Cause and Criminal Law
      • 7.6.2 - Proximate Cause and Consequential Damages
  • Chapter Eight - THE DUTY PROBLEM
    • 8.1 - Is There a Duty to Rescue?
      • 8.1.1 - Cases
      • 8.1.2 - Liability for Good Samaritans?
    • 8.2 - Landowners and Occupiers
    • 8.3 - Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
    • 8.4 - To Whom Does a Defendant Owe a Duty?
      • 8.4.1 - The Duty Debate (Part 1)
      • 8.4.2 - Cases and Materials
      • 8.4.3 - The Duty Debate (Part 2)
    • 8.5 - Pure Economic Loss
    • 8.6 - Relational Interests
      • 8.6.1 - Spouses
      • 8.6.2 - Children
      • 8.6.3 - Unmarried partners
    • 8.7 - Tort Immunities
      • 8.7.1 - Intrafamilial Immunities
      • 8.7.2 - Charitable Immunity
      • 8.7.3 - Employers’ Immunity
      • 8.7.4 - Sovereign Immunity
      • 8.7.5 - Government Officer Immunity
      • 8.7.6 - Statutory Immunity
      • 8.7.7 - Wartime and National Security Immunities
      • 8.7.8 - Immunity Reconsidered
  • Chapter Nine - MODERN NON-FAULT LIABILITY?
    • 9.1 - Vicarious Liability
    • 9.2 - Abnormally Dangerous Activities
    • 9.3 - Nuisance
      • 9.3.1 - Private Nuisance
      • 9.3.2 - Public Nuisance
    • 9.4 - Strict Liability for Products?
      • 9.4.1 - Beginnings
      • 9.4.2 - Manufacturing Defects
      • 9.4.3 - Design Defects
      • 9.4.4 - Warning Defects
      • 9.4.5 - The Preemption Question
  • Chapter Ten - DAMAGES
    • 10.1 - Compensatory Damages
      • 10.1.1 - Pecuniary Damages
      • 10.1.2 - Nonpecuniary Damages
      • 10.1.3 - Environmental Damages
      • 10.1.4 - Death Cases
    • 10.2 - Damages in Practice
      • 10.2.1 - Plaintiffs’ Lawyers and the Contingency Fee
      • 10.2.2 - The Role of Defendants’ Insurance
      • 10.2.3 - Subrogation; or, The Role of Plaintiffs’ Insurance
      • 10.2.4 - The “Bronx Jury” Effect
      • 10.2.5 - Beyond Dollars
      • 10.2.6 - The Death of Liability?
    • 10.3 - Mass Settlements
      • 10.3.1 - The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
      • 10.3.2 - Aggregation: Class Actions and their Limits
      • 10.3.3 - The Vioxx Settlement
      • 10.3.4 - The BP Oil Spill
      • 10.3.5 - State Attorneys General
    • 10.4 - Punitive Damages
Introduction
Torts: Cases, Principles, and Institutions

 

 

John Fabian Witt

Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law

 

Yale Law School

 

 

Third Edition

CALI eLangdell® Press 2018

 

Introduction.1. About the Author

John Fabian Witt is Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He is the author of Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History, which was awarded the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, was selected for the 2013 Bancroft Prize in American history, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and was a New York Times Notable Book for 2012.  He has taught torts for sixteen years at Yale, Columbia, and Harvard. 

Professor Witt’s previous writings includes the prizewinning book, The Accidental Republic: Crippled Workingmen, Destitute Widows, and the Remaking of American Law (Harvard University Press, 2004) and Patriots and Cosmopolitans: Hidden Histories of American Law (Harvard University Press, 2007).  He has authored articles in the American Historical Review, the Columbia Law Review, the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, and other scholarly journals. He has written for the New York Times, Slate, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. In 2010, he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for his project on the laws of war in American history. Professor Witt is a graduate of Yale Law School and Yale College, and he holds a Ph.D. in history from Yale. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served as law clerk to Judge Pierre N. Leval on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Introduction.2. Notices

This is the third edition of this casebook, updated June 2018. Visit http://elangdell.cali.org/ for the latest version and for revision history.

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What did the banana say to the judge? I’ll be sure to win my case on a peel.

August Cooper Witt, July 2017 (h/t Geronimo Stilton, The Quest for Paradise: The Return to the Kingdom of Fantasy 140 (2011))

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