Friday, May 27, 2016

Tort Law

Hello, and welcome back to School Stories. I will be your host today, guiding you through parts of the highly complex topic of American Tort Law, one of three major parts of American Common Law. All of this information comes from things I have learned in my Introduction to American Law course through the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

First of all, what is a torttort, in common law, is a civil wrong that causes someone else, called the plaintiff, to suffer unfairly, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tort, called the tortfeasor. Plaintiffs in tort law typically seek monetary reward, or damages. If monetary damages are awarded, the judge in a tort case(tort court?) usually awards enough to put the plaintiff  back into the position that (s)he was in before the injury. 

One famous case from 1850, the Brown vs. Kendall case, was prominent in the distinction of American tort law. Two dogs, one owned by Mr. Brown and one owned by Mr. Kendall, were fighting. Mr. Brown, worried about the safety of the dogs, started beating them with a stick while Mr. Kendall stood behind him. Mr. Kendall took a step forward to see more clearly, which resulted in Mr. Kendall being accidentally struck in the eye with the stick, damaging it beyond repair. 

Mr. Kendall sued Mr. Brown for the damage to his eye. Mr. Kendall thought that Mr. Brown would be found guilty in a heartbeat, since the dominant liability process at the time was something called strict liability, where the tortfeasor had to give the damages no matter what if the plaintiff could prove that the harm was done. Nowadays, the tortfeasor only has to give the plaintiff damages if the tort was intentional or commit through negligence, which is failure to exhibit the caution of a reasonable person of ordinary prudence. That system, called fault-based liability, is the one that the judge decided to use, so Mr. Brown was found not guilty.

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