Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Outline - Torts - VII - Strict Liability

Torts (2005 Fall)


  1. Traditional
    1. Animals
      1. Dangerous animals [Baker v. Snell]
        1. No physical impact required
        2. Strict liability
      2. Tame animals
        1. Negligence
        2. Strict liability if individual known to be dangerous
      3. Exceptions
        1. Zoos
        2. National Parks
    2. Rylands v. Fletcher
      1. If you bring anything on your land which, if it escapes, is likely to do damage, you’re strictly liable.
      2. Blackburn’s three analogies
        1. Escaping cattle which eats a neighbor’s grass or corn
        2. Privy filth which invades neighbor’s cellar
        3. Alkali works makes a neighbor’s habitation unhealthy by fumes and noisome
      3. Cairns: Strict liability for harm resulting from “unnatural use of land”.
    3. Related cases
      1. Losee v. Buchanan on basis that the price of modernization is compromising some rights.
      2. Cities Service claims it is reasonable to insist people pay their own way even in a crowded state.
      3. Turner distinguishes, insists building a reservoir is not “unnatural” use of land in rain-scarce Texas.
      4. Sullivan v. Dunham (majority American rule for blasting cases) – It is better that one man should surrender a particular use of his land than that another should be deprived of the beneficial use of his property altogether.
  2. Modern Strict Liability for Abnormally Dangerous Activities
    1. Elements (Second Restatement § 520)
      1. High degree of risk of harm to person, land, or chattels of others
      2. Likelihood that harm will be great
      3. Inability to eliminate risk by reasonable care
      4. Extent to which activity is uncommon
      5. Inappropriateness of activity to place
      6. Extent to which value to community is outweighed by danger.
    2. Indiana Harbor Belt
      1. Negligence applies in cases involving shipment of abnormally dangerous materials.
      2. Allocative (negligence) vs. distributive (strict liability)
        1. Posner relies on negligence to allocate the loss away from the community and to the several parties involved in the accident.
        2. Strict liability could be used to decide how to distribute the loss among the parties.

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