Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Torts hypo  (Read 2019 times)

starter

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 14
    • View Profile
Re: Torts hypo
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2006, 12:50:16 PM »
The fact that the walking trail was "frequently unused" might have something to do with determining whether it was substantially certain that someone would fall into the hole.  If it was a busy sidewalk and he covered up a hole it might be different. 

This is a much better case for negligence than battery.

T00083

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Torts hypo
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2006, 01:02:51 PM »
The fact that the walking trail was "frequently unused" might have something to do with determining whether it was substantially certain that someone would fall into the hole.  If it was a busy sidewalk and he covered up a hole it might be different. 

This is a much better case for negligence than battery.

s

Yeah thats what I was thinking.  Gross negligence.
Also, back to JD's point.  Yeah I know what a lawyers job is.  These are exam type facts for Torts.  If you walk into your torts exam and start throwing down crap from your contracts class, your going to get a big fat F.  Even if it weren't and you had a senior partner at a firm asking you to address the intent element of Battery and you give him some contracts insight, your going to get coffee thrown in your face

J D

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1388
  • Lust isn't one of the 7 Deadly Sins for nothing...
    • View Profile
Re: Torts hypo
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2006, 01:40:29 PM »
The fact that the walking trail was "frequently unused" might have something to do with determining whether it was substantially certain that someone would fall into the hole.  If it was a busy sidewalk and he covered up a hole it might be different. 

This is a much better case for negligence than battery.

s

Yeah thats what I was thinking.  Gross negligence.
Also, back to JD's point.  Yeah I know what a lawyers job is.  These are exam type facts for Torts.  If you walk into your torts exam and start throwing down crap from your contracts class, your going to get a big fat F.  Even if it weren't and you had a senior partner at a firm asking you to address the intent element of Battery and you give him some contracts insight, your going to get coffee thrown in your face

You might get that response if you were applying IRRELEVANT principles from contracts to a torts problems (e.g., there's no liability for setting a booby trap because he never promised he wouldn't and even if he did there's no consideration).  But that's not what I was doing here.  Where you have a situation that the torts rules don't quite seem to cover (I don't know if there are specific rules for intent in battery where you don't know exactly whom you are going to be battering; I would like to think there are, and for all I know it is the same principle from contracts), and there's a rule from another body of law covering a like situation (like this rule which covers a similar problem of identification), it's not crazy to think that the same principle might apply.  This is how lawyers and judges do things: a rule has been applied to a certain situation in the past, another similar but different situation comes along, and you consider whether the same rule should apply. 

If there's already a rule on point, go with that, obviously.  But if you seem to be on new ground, there's nothing objectionable with looking to other rules applied to similar problems and seeing whether they work here.  I've had many of my professors ask these kinds of questions in class: "Well, in property, we say X.  Why don't we do the same thing in contracts (or in torts, or in anything else)?"  I got lots of similar questions from my crim professor regarding differences in approach between criminal law and torts.  Simply telling him, "well, that's property (or torts, etc.)" usually isn't an answer that will satisfy him.

The point is to get you to think about the purposes behind the application of certain principles in certain situations, and seeing whether those purposes would be helped or hindered in this situation, or whether other purposes are more important to a certain body of doctrine.  Sometimes the rule can be borrowed and applied rather easily from another area of law because it serves the same purpose; other times, it's not a good idea because it either frustrates the purpose for which it was developed, or it's not addressed to that purpose but to a different one.
"I never think of the future.  It comes soon enough."--Albert Einstein

T00083

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Torts hypo
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2006, 02:32:42 PM »
     I stopped reading after three words.  I know you spent a lot of time, typing, editing, and using WESTLAW to come up with all this insight.  I am sorry.  Let me just quote what I put in the first line.


"Can Luke sue for battery? The issue I'm looking at really is if he had the intent since he didn't specifically target Luke, and theres no sub. certainty."


Perhaps start a new post called "what lawyers do" and put it in there.  I'm sure there are a lot of people who will thank you for gathering all that info for them.  They are obviously studying too hard to figure it out on their own.
(I also apoligize for poor spelling, grammer, and punctuation in all my posts)

J D

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1388
  • Lust isn't one of the 7 Deadly Sins for nothing...
    • View Profile
Re: Torts hypo
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2006, 04:53:40 PM »
     I stopped reading after three words.  I know you spent a lot of time, typing, editing, and using WESTLAW to come up with all this insight.  I am sorry.  Let me just quote what I put in the first line.


"Can Luke sue for battery? The issue I'm looking at really is if he had the intent since he didn't specifically target Luke, and theres no sub. certainty."


Perhaps start a new post called "what lawyers do" and put it in there.  I'm sure there are a lot of people who will thank you for gathering all that info for them.  They are obviously studying too hard to figure it out on their own.
(I also apoligize for poor spelling, grammer, and punctuation in all my posts)

I proposed a possible resolution to the issue whether the victim had to be specifically identified for intent to lie.  You objected on the ground that the proposed resolution happens to come from a similar problem in contract law.  Exchanges followed.  I think I've largely been following your lead in this.

But back to the issue at hand.  Assuming a lack of substantial certainty, that leaves us with the purpose test for intent, i.e., did John intend to cause harmful or offensive contact, regardless of whether the method he has chosen is likely to cause such harmful or offensive contact.  The hypo says he set the trap "to see if someone would fall into it."  I'm not sure if this means he really hopes someone will, or not (maybe he's just curious).  If the former, I highly doubt that the fact that John doesn't know exactly who will stumble into his trap will matter much.  He possesses the intent to harm someone by his act under the purpose test, someone was harmed by his action, and so that someone should have a claim against him for battery.  Contrary to the earlier assertion, there is an intended victim.  We just don't know who the victim is before he is injured; the victim is unidentified until then.

The alternative seems kind of silly.  If a guy walks into a pitch black room with two other people and fires a single shot from a gun in a random direction (hoping to hit someone, but not caring whom), and one of the other persons just happens to get hit, then should the victim have no claim for battery merely because the tortfeasor didn't specifically know whom he wished to harm?  I doubt any judge is going to be so formalistic. 

However, John does have one possible argument: he didn't intend (in that it was not his purpose, his wish) to hurt anyone by digging the whole, but was just morbidly curious as to whether someone would be hurt.  If this is what "to see if someone would fall into it" means (or rather, if that is what a jury so finds), then at worst, John is reckless or wanton in his conduct, which is probably not enough for a battery in most jurisdictions since it falls short of intent.

But I think the whole problem turns on whether John intended, hoped, wished, had the purpose to cause harmful or offensive contact.  I doubt it matters that he didn't know whom he would be harming.
"I never think of the future.  It comes soon enough."--Albert Einstein

holler21

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 102
    • View Profile
Re: Torts hypo
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2006, 06:53:45 PM »
John isn't substantially certain?  You mean to tell me that if someone walked over the trap John wouldn't really think that person would defy the laws of physics and fall?  From a defendant's point of view, I understand where you're coming from, but I'm arguing for Luke.

If John were on the stand, here's how we pull this out of him..

Me:  John isn't it true that if you roll a ball off the table it falls down to the ground?
John:  Yes.
Me:  And isn't it true that the ball falls to the ground because it reached the end of the table?
John:  Yes.
No furhter questions.

Obviously, I'd tighten the questions up a little more, but you get the point.  John obviously understand that if "something" heading in a certain direction on a certain surface, and that surface ceases to exist (ie hole in the ground), the "something" falls. 

I think this hypo is one where you can really make a case for either side, with no clear-cut winner.  Obviously, there would be more to uncovering the issue of John's certainty of his act, but given the scenario, I think this is the way to attack it from a plaintiff's point of view. 

PS - in most cases, it's harder to prove substantial certainty than not to have to prove it

J D

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1388
  • Lust isn't one of the 7 Deadly Sins for nothing...
    • View Profile
Re: Torts hypo
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2006, 07:00:58 PM »
I don't think you have to bother with substantial certainty at all.  It may really be as easy as convincing a jury that John built the trap in order to hurt someone, and that someone was hurt by the trap.  Given that most people don't go around building booby traps for laughs, that might not be too hard.
"I never think of the future.  It comes soon enough."--Albert Einstein

aldicarb

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 46
    • View Profile
Re: Torts hypo
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2006, 05:36:31 PM »
 I feel pretty strongly that the guy that set the trap would surely by found liable for battery. First of all, it does not matter if he did not specifically target anyone, if he intended the consequences of his actions.. no matter on who.   It does not matter if it is possible that someone may not fall, it is important what his intent was. In fact, it does not really matter, now that I think about it, whether he was subst. certainty. In truth, he had a DESIRE to bring about a harmful or offensive contact with someone, i.e. he desired the consequences to result from his actions. To draw anything else fromt he purpose of him digging a hole in the ground and covering it up would be pretty difficult and likely fail in court.

Also, I do not see negligence here. This was carried out with an intent to "see if anyone would fall". This is quite different from, oops I dug this hole and forgot about it, I used it as a garbage can while camping. That would be negligence. Here he clearly intended the result of his actions, the absolute meaning of an intentional tort.
1L [check]
2L [right around the corner]
Professional Hazing [complete]

starter

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 14
    • View Profile
Re: Torts hypo
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2006, 05:54:27 PM »
I feel pretty strongly that the guy that set the trap would surely by found liable for battery. First of all, it does not matter if he did not specifically target anyone, if he intended the consequences of his actions.. no matter on who.   It does not matter if it is possible that someone may not fall, it is important what his intent was. In fact, it does not really matter, now that I think about it, whether he was subst. certainty. In truth, he had a DESIRE to bring about a harmful or offensive contact with someone, i.e. he desired the consequences to result from his actions. To draw anything else fromt he purpose of him digging a hole in the ground and covering it up would be pretty difficult and likely fail in court.

Also, I do not see negligence here. This was carried out with an intent to "see if anyone would fall". This is quite different from, oops I dug this hole and forgot about it, I used it as a garbage can while camping. That would be negligence. Here he clearly intended the result of his actions, the absolute meaning of an intentional tort.

There is gross or willful negligence in this hypo.  There is a clear disregard for the safety of others when you dig a hole and then cover it up. 

T00083

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Torts hypo
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2006, 06:03:54 PM »
John isn't substantially certain?  You mean to tell me that if someone walked over the trap John wouldn't really think that person would defy the laws of physics and fall?  From a defendant's point of view, I understand where you're coming from, but I'm arguing for Luke.

If John were on the stand, here's how we pull this out of him..

Me:  John isn't it true that if you roll a ball off the table it falls down to the ground?
John:  Yes.
Me:  And isn't it true that the ball falls to the ground because it reached the end of the table?
John:  Yes.
No furhter questions.

Obviously, I'd tighten the questions up a little more, but you get the point.  John obviously understand that if "something" heading in a certain direction on a certain surface, and that surface ceases to exist (ie hole in the ground), the "something" falls. 

I think this hypo is one where you can really make a case for either side, with no clear-cut winner.  Obviously, there would be more to uncovering the issue of John's certainty of his act, but given the scenario, I think this is the way to attack it from a plaintiff's point of view. 

PS - in most cases, it's harder to prove substantial certainty than not to have to prove it


Are you serious? Yeah he isn't Sub. certain. that someone would fall into the hole.   The kids in your section are lucky to have you.  Less competition for top 10%