Torts-Strict Liability

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Torts-Strict Liability
2011-06-20 16:47:22
torts strict liability

Torts-Strict Liability
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  1. Elements of Strict Liability
    Same as negligence, except replace duty with strict duty.

    • Protective Efforts.
    • --Legally irrelevant.
    • --Examiners will pack facts with protective measures.
  2. Injuries Caused by Animals
    Domesticated Animals

    --Generally no SL.

    • --Exception:
    • SL for injuries by animals with vicious propensities (usually past bite; can also be general bad demeanor), where D is aware of those propensities.

    SL never applies to trespassers to land.

    Wild Animals

    SL, no exceptions.
  3. Abnormally Dangerous Activities
    Abnormally dangerous=

    1. Activity must create foreseeable risk of serious harm even when reasonable care is exercised.

    • 2. Activity must not be a matter of common usage in community where D conducts it.
    • (crop dusting in farmland vs. suburbs)
  4. Products Liability
    • Watch the signal!
    • --Products can trigger liability under a range of theories.
    • --Signal may allude to specific theories (“P sues store for negligence.”). Only answer SL if asked (or on essays).

    4 elements:

    • 1. D must be a merchant.
    • Merchant=routinely deals in goods of this type. Issues:
    • --Casual Sellers. Not merchants; not SL (ebay sellers).
    • --Service Providers. Primary business is offering a service; not merchants of goods/tangible products that are collateral to the service (collapsed chair in doc’s waiting room (but premises liability)).
    • --Commercial Lessors. =merchants: even though they don’t part with title (rental cars).
    • --Merchant Includes Every Merchant in Dist Chain. No requirement of privity with P (but P must still be a foreseeable victim for PC purposes).

    2. There must be evidence that the product is defective.

    Manufacturing defect.

    Ok design, but actual product differs from design.

    Design defect.

    • There exists a safer, practical, and cost-effective alternative way to build the product. P must posit the alternative and show why it satisfies.
    • --Practical=would not make more difficult to use or undermine effectiveness (bladeless knife).
    • --Cost effective=a little more expensive is ok; not significantly.

    Information defect.

    Subset of design defect (because a warning (or better warning) is an alternative design). Not all warnings are equal.

    --Must eliminate physical risks where possible. Cannot warn away. This is policy consideration: get safest feasible physical design; warn of remaining risks.

    • 3. Product has not been altered since it left D’s hands.
    • --Manufacturers are not insurers for their products. If a product is tampered with, there is no SL.
    • --Proof difficulties=Presumption that if product has moved in ordinary channels of distribution, it has not been altered. D must prove otherwise.
    • --Does not apply to sale of used goods; not ordinary channels.

    • 4. P must be making a foreseeable use of product when injured.
    • --Foreseeable uses; not intended uses/misuse (standing on chair; speeding in car).
  5. Affirmative Defense to Strict Liability
    Comparative Fault
    (petting neighbor’s tiger); (using sparking Cuisinart).