Syllabus - Torts - Fall 2013

Fordham Law School                                                                    updated December 3, 2013
Torts - Fall 2013
Section 9
Tuesday 6:00 - 8:50
Thursday 6:00 - 7:50
Room 211

George W. Conk
Adjunct Professor of Law

Senior Fellow, Stein Center for Law & Ethics
Rm 409

Class schedule:
Tuesday   & Thursday evenings

Required Casebook:

Franklin, Rabin & Green, Tort Law & Alternatives, 9th Edition, Foundation Press, 2011
isbn 978-1-59941-860-5

Suggested reading:

Shapo & Shapo, Law School Without Fear: strategies for success, 2d edition Foundation Press

Mark A. Geistfeld, Tort Law: The Essentials,  Aspen/Wolters Kluwer

Course website: TWEN

Course blog: Torts Today 

Required Readings

The Constitution of the United States of America
Prof.  Karl Llewellyn - Elements of the Law (1957) audio

Week 1  (estimated times of arrival  - actual times may vary)

First class: organizational meeting/opening lecture

Chapter 1 - Introduction to Tort Liability 
Fault-based, vicarious, and strict  liability

Casebook - pages 2 - 29
(Hammontree v. Jenner, Christensen v. Swensen, Roessler v. Novak)
Suggested reading: ALI, Restatement 3rd, Tort: Independent Contractors - blackletter  Apparent Agency - NJ Model Civil Jury Charge 5.50A
Slideshow: End of the Silver Maple - Torts Today

Background: the Hammontree file (optional)

Chapter 2 - The Negligence Principle

Historical Development of fault liability

Casebook pp. 30 - 60 
(Brown v. Kendall)

 The Central Concept  - The Standard of Care
(U.S. v. Carroll Towing, 159 F.2d 169 (2d Cir. 1947); Adams v. Bullock)
Optional: The Adams v. Bullock story

Week 2

The Reasonable Person
Ordinary care or “ the utmost care, so far as human skill and foresight can go".

(Bethel v. NYCTA) 

 Bolton v. Stone [1951] A C 850  - Speech of Lord Reid (TWEN - Course Materials) 

The Roles of Judge and Jury, Custom, Statutes, Regulations
Who decides? Based on what?
Is ordinary care what is ordinarily done?

Casebook 60 - 67
(B&O RR Co. v. Goodman, Pokora v. Wabash Rwy. Co., Andrews v. United Airlines)

The Role of Custom and Statutes
Casebook 68 - 85

Morris v. West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Co., Ltd.  
1 All ER 385, [1956] (TWEN) Nautical Glossary

The T.J. Hooper v. Northern Barge, 60 F.2d 737 (2d Cir. 1932)

OSHA fall protection standards (courtesy of Robson Forensic)

(Trimarco v. Klein, Martin v. Herzog, Tedla v. Elman)

Statutory interpretation: the implied cause of action
Title IX and gender equality in student athletics - Linda Greenhouse

Week 3 
Proof of Negligence
Casebook pp. 85 - 128 
(Negri v. Stop & Shop; Gordon v. American Museum of Natural History; Byrne v. Boadle; McDougald v. Perry; Ybarra v. Spangard)

Res Ipsa Loquitur - Sec. 328D 2d Restatement of Torts

Medical Malpractice - the standard of care for professionals

Proving the standard of care
Sheeley v. Memorial Hospital
Background (optional): American Board of Medical Specialties  Contrast: Competence of Experts, Affidavits of Merit - NJSA 2A:53A-41

Res ipsa
Sides v. St. Anthony’s Medical Center 

Informed Consent
Matthies v. Mastromonaco

N.Y. Public Health Law § 2805-d. Limitation of medical, dental or podiatric malpractice action based on lack of informed consent 

N.J. Model Civil Jury Charge - Medical Negligence

5.50Apparent Authority Charge.doc.pdf
5.50ADuty and Negligence.doc.pdf
5.50BCommon Knowledge Standard of Care.doc.pdf
5.50CInformed Consent (Competent Adult and No Emergency).doc.pdf
5.50DIntentionally Left Blank
5.50EPre-Existing Condition — Increased Risk/Loss of Chance — Proximate Cause.doc.pdf
5.50FWrongful Birth and Life.doc.pdf
5.50GMedical Judgment.doc.pdf
5.50HAlteration Of Medical Records.doc.pdf
5.50IFraudulent Concealment Of Medical Records.doc.pdf

Week 4 

Chapter 3 - The Duty Requirement: Physical Injuries 

Introduction, Duty, No Duty,  and Affirmative obligations to act
Rescue and exceptions to the no duty to rescue rule

Casebook 129 - 188

Affirmative Duties, (black letter) Restatement of Torts, 3rd,  §§ 7, 37, 40 (TWEN)

(Harper v. Herman ;  Farwell v. Keaton, Moch v. Renssalaer (link is to full text.  Excerpted in the casebook @p. 175)


(Randi W. v. Maroc Jt. Unified School District) 

Duty owed to a third party
(Tarasoff v. Board of Regents)
Did James Holmes's psychiatrist discharge her duty? (link is to Torts Today)

Policy reasons for invoking no duty of care

(Strauss v. Belle Realty, Reynolds v. Hicks, Vince v. Wilson)

In Re NYC Asbestos Litigation -Holdampf v. Port Authority, 840 N.E. 2d 115 (NY 2005) (TWEN)

Olivo v. Owens Illinois, 895 A. 2d 1143 (NJ 2006) (TWEN)

Georgia Pacific v. Farrar, Md. Ct. of Appeals (2013)

Worth a look: student Note - Yelena Kotlarsky, The "Peripheral Plaintiff": Duty Determinations in `Take-Home' Asbestos Cases,  - Fordham L. Rev. (2012)

Statutory limitations of duty: the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act of 2005.  See this blog post for the text of the statute and Prof. John Culhane's Slate article.

Week 5 
Casebook 188 - 217 

Duties of Landowners and Occupiers

3rd Restatement §§ 49 - 54 Duty of Land Possessors  (black letter) (also on TWEN - as is the complete draft)

(Carter v. Kinney, Heins v. Webster County, Posecai v. Walmart, A.W. v. Lancaster) 
Aurora, CO `Dark Knight massacre' - Traynom v. Cinemark  civil complaints (read only one)  Magistrate's Report on motion to dismiss

Duty: Governmental Entities 
Casebook 227 - 259

The Federal Tort Claims Act - Statutory excerpts (TWEN)

(Riss v. City of New York; Lauer v. City of New York, Friedman v.  State of New York, Cope v.Scott)
Suggested: Crazy Love (film trailer)
Millbrook v. U.S. , 133 S. Ct. 1441 (2013)
argument recap

The Brandeis Brief - Muller v. Oregon, 208 US 412 (1907)
 In Matter of World Trade Center Bombing

Week 6
Chapter 4 - The Duty Requirement: Nonphysical Harm

Emotional Harm
Casebook 260 - 298
(Falzone v. Busch,  Metro North v. Buckley; Gammon v. Osteopathic Hospital; Portee v. Jaffe, Johnson v. Jamaica Hospital)
Optional:  McDougall v. Lamm (NJ 2012)

Chapter 8, 3rd Restatement, §§ 1, 2, 3, 45, 46, 47, 48 -Liability for Emotional Disturbance (TWEN)

Economic Harm
Casebook 298-319
(NYCAL v. KPMG Peat Marwick, LLP; 532 Madison Gourmet foods, Inc. v. Finlandia Center)
Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (excerpts
BP Deepwater Horizon settlement (introduction - slides)
Business Economic Loss Framework exhibit 4C
Deepwater Horizon Settlement Fund (homepage)

Week 7
Chapter 5 Causation

Cause in Fact (But-for causation, admissibility, and sufficiency of evidence)
Casebook 333-364
Admissibility of expert opinion testimony: Fed. R. Evid. 702

(Stubbs v. City of Rochester; Zuchowicz v. U.S; Matsuyama v. Birnbaum)
NJ Model Civil Jury Charge 5.50E - Pre-existing Condition - Increased risk/loss of chance Proximate Cause

McDarby v. Merck, 401 NJ Super 10 (NJ App. Div. 2008) (excerpted)  Slideshow - the Vioxx story

Multiple defendants & Joint & Several Liability

Casebook 364 - 393
(Summers v. Tice; Hymowitz v. Eli Lilly & Co.)
Uniform Apportionment of Tort Responsibility Act (2003 ed.) - Uniform Laws Commission

Week 8
Ch. 5 - Causation 
Proximate Cause and the Scope of Liability

Scope of Liability: Unexpected harm
Casebook 393-432
(Benn v. Thomas; Polemis; The Wagon Mound)

Texting to a driver - Kubert v. Best (N.J.A.D. 2013)

New Jersey Model Civil Jury Charges


6.10Proximate Cause — General Charge To Be Given In All Cases
6.11Proximate Cause — Routine Tort Where No Issues Of Concurrent Or Intervening Causes, Or Foreseeability Of Injury Or Harm
6.12Proximate Cause — Claim That Concurrent Causes of Harm Were Present
6.13Proximate Cause — Claim That Concurrent Causes of Harm Are Present And Claim That Specific Harm Was Not Foreseeable
6.14Proximate Cause — Claim of Intervening or Superseding Cause

Superseding causes

(Doe v. Mannheimer; Hinojo v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company, 353 N.J. Super 261 (App. Div. 2002) 

Suggested reading:  Restatement 2d - Superseding Cause - §§ 440 - 452 (TWEN)

Unexpected victim

Palsgraf v. LIRR; The Kinsman Cases - 2d Circuit - I (1964) and II (1968)

Suggested reading: Restatement (3rd) of Torts § 29 (TWEN)

Week 9
Chapter 7 Strict Liability
Casebook 507-520
Fletcher v. Rylands, Rylands v. Fletcher

Sullivan v. Dunham

New York Labor Law 240, 241
Savillo v. Greenpoint Landing  

Chapter 8 Liability for Defective Products
Casebook 551-571
Restatement 2d, Section 402 A (TWEN)
Introduction and Manufacturing Defects
(MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co.; Escola v. Coca Cola Bottling Co.)

Weeks 10 - 11
Chapter 8  Liability for defective products - continued
Design, and information defects; defenses; work-related injuries

SawStop: table saw safety technology.  View videos

READ 1st Circuit decision upholding plaintiff's verdict  Osorio v. One World Technology

Read posts on Torts Today HERE and HERE

Background reading: casebook 571-599

Design Defects
(Soule v. GM, Camacho v. Honda)

Hinojo v. NJM, 353 N.J. Super 261 (App. Div. 2002) (TWEN)

Halliday v. Sturm & Ruger, 368 Md. 186 (2002) (consumer expectations) (TWEN)  
Background: Children and Guns - the Hidden toll - NY Times. 
TPM: U.S. Hospitals Admit 7,500 kids/year for gunshots
Should Bushmaster be liable for the murders in Newtown, CT, shootings carried out with its AR 15 assault rifle?  Should guns be regulated by product liability law?  by the Consumer Product Safety Commission? Should careless gun owners be prosecuted?


Casebook 599-646
(Hood v. Ryobi (see video); State v. Karl; Vassallo v. Baxter)

Defenses & Work Related Injuries

(GM v. Sanchez, Jones v. Ryobi, Liriano v. Hobart)

Crippen v. N.J. Central Concrete, 176 N.J. 397 (2003) (TWEN) 

Week 12
Chapter 6  Defenses
Casebook 433-489 

Plaintiff’s fault 
Contributory negligence, comparative fault, avoidable consequences, assumption of risk
Comparative Fault Act Summary  - Final Act  Uniform Laws Commission
(Fritts v. McKinne; Dalury v. SKI; Hanks v. Powder Ridge; Murphy v. Steeplechase; Davenport v. Cotton; Levandoski v. Cone)

Week 13
Chapter 9 Trespass & Nuisance
Nuisance - elements of liability - Restatement 2d - Torts - black letter
Casebook 674-709

(Martin v. Reynolds; Boomer v. Atlantic Cement; State of Rhode Island v. Lead Industries)

Ch. 10 Damages and Insurance
Casebook 710-750

Compensatory Damages
(Seffert v. Los Angeles Transit; McDougald v. Garber; Arambula v. Wells)

NJ Model Jury Charge - Damages - Chapter 8
Personal injury and wrongful death

Sample economic report - wrongful death (Daniel Jones) (TWEN)

Background: Joint &  Several Liability - 50 State Survey - Wilson Elser

Unlikely to be reached

Punitive Damages
Casebook 750-776
(Taylor v. Superior Court; State Farm v. Campbell)

Chapter 12 Intentional Harm
The Federal Civil Rights Action and Liability of Federal Officials

Casebook 968-984
(Wilson v. Layne) 
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, U.S. Supreme Court (2009)