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Strict Liability and Torts and Public Policy

Strict Liability and Torts and Public Policy

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Strict Liability and Torts and Public Policy

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  1. Strict Liability and Torts and Public Policy Ms. Weigl

  2. What is strict liability? • Exception to the requirement of fault • Means the defendant is liable to the plaintiff regardless of fault. • This is true in some situations even if the defendant took all precautions necessary, liability is imposed without proof of fault

  3. How do I prove it? Negligence Strict Liability Causation Damages Must prove to the court that the harm caused is the type of unreasonably dangerous activity to which strict liability should be applied. • Duty • Breach • Causation • damages

  4. Public Policy • Public policy and common sense require people who conduct dangerous activities to accept responsibility for any harm they caused, even if they were NOT negligent.

  5. Dangerous Activity • Applies to activities seen as unreasonably dangerous • Considered unreasonably dangerous when they involve a risk of harm that cannot be eliminated even by reasonable care. • Activities may be socially useful or necessary, but because of their potential for harm, those who engage in them are held to the strict liability standard.

  6. Examples • Toxic torts Harm resulting from the use of toxic and other hazardous chemicals. Industrial companies disposing of their wastes in rivers and that resulting in illness for those exposed to such chemicals.

  7. Animals • Law traditionally holds owners of untamed animals responsible for any harm caused by the animals. • In extreme situations, a pet owner might even be held criminally responsible for the harm caused by a pet if the owner knows that the pet is dangerous and cannot be controlled.

  8. Defective Products • Product liability- the legal responsibility of manufacturers for injuries caused by defective products. • The CPSC protects the public by issuing and enforcing mandatory product standards or in some cases, banning consumer products.

  9. Defenses for strict liability • You don’t have to prove fault. You have to prove causation and damages. • A defendant could try to show that there is no causation or that there are no damages. Example- A person has a heat attack and dies instantly while driving a car with faulty brakes. That person’s family might argue that the car manufacturer is strictly liable. However, if the defect (the faulty brakes) did not cause the damage (the death), the manufacturer would not be liable.

  10. Torts, Public Policy, Reform Torts and Public Policy Tort Reform A movement to change the process of settling tort claims. • As a matter of public policy, the tort law system should serve to: • Compensate harmed persons in a prompt and efficient way • Fairly allocate benefits to victims and costs to wrongdoers • Deter conduct that is unreasonably risky and dangerous

  11. Strategies to change process of settling torts • Reduce the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit for damages after an injury. - statute of limitations: requires that a tort claim be filed within either two or three years of when the injury is suffered. • Limit or “cap” the amount that can be rewarded for pain and suffering.

  12. Frivolous lawsuits • Cases without merit • Example: In1991, Richard Overton sued Anheuser-Busch for false and misleading advertising under Michigan State law.  The complaint specifically referenced ads involving, among other things, fantasies of beautiful women in tropical settings that came to life for two men driving a Bud Light truck.  In addition to two claims of false advertising, Mr. Overton included a third claim in his complaint in which he claimed to have suffered emotional distress, mental injury, and financial loss in excess of $10,0000 due to the misleading Bud Light ads.  The court dismissed all claims.