With respect to law of torts, any action carried out intentionally and that results in causing either physical or emotional injury to another person qualifies as an intentional tort. On the other hand, negligence tort entails causing harm or injury to a third party as a result of personal carelessness. According to Arthur and Barner (2007), civil law requires that every individual conduct his or her activities in a manner that induces no harm to surrounding persons. In this context, the need to conduct one’s affairs in a safe manner constitutes the element of duty. Failure to act safely and within expected standards and causing either physical or psychological harm to other people amounts to breach of duty. With respect to the supposed case study in subject, it is apparent that the teenage son breached numerous duties stipulated within the law of torts. Duties breached falls under two categories namely, intentional torts and negligence torts.
The first type of intentional tort committed by the teenage son is assault. At the beginning, the teenage son “borrowed” a car and dropped by his girlfriend’s house. Once in the family’s premises, the teenager threatened to run over his girlfriend’s father with the car. In fact, the teenager drove the car past where the plaintiff stood, with the old man avoiding being hit by jumping aside at the last possible moment. Apart from the driveway incident, the teenager held his girlfriend’s little brother captive for several miles only to drop him at a substantial distance from the boy’s home. Despite the loud screams from the little boy, my son went on with the assault by taking slight delight in being a captor. As if the two incidents were not enough, the two lovers headed into a private property where they professed their romance. On being ordered by the property owner to leave his premises, the delinquent teenager managed to fire gun shots towards the man’s direction.
- Defense: Self-defense
Based on the extrapolation above, it is undeniable that all the teenager’s actions acknowledged above amounts to overt assault. In all these cases, the teenager had intentions of harming the plaintiffs. For example in the first case, the teenager is responsible for assault because the girlfriend’s father perceived that he would have been ran over, had he not jumped out of the driver’s way. According to Harari (2013), one reasonable defense for these assault incidences is self-defense. With respect to the incident which led to the teenager firing shots towards the property owner in subject, it is undeniable that the defendant acted out of self-defense. Having been frightened by the initial gunshot, the teenager had reasonable belief that his life and that of his girlfriend were in danger; hence fired the shots as an act of self-defense.
- Causation: Factual Causation
With respect to causation, it is apparent that the teenager’s intentions were direct causes of harms inflicted on the plaintiffs. In the first case, any emotional distress inflicted to the girl’s father as he stood in front of the running engine resulted from the teenager’s intentions to intimidate the plaintiff. Had the defendant failed to issue threats on the driveway, the old man would not have suffered any emotional distress. In addition, any dangers caused by firing shots towards the man were factual causation of the defendant’s intent to assault the plaintiff.
The teenager’s act of driving into a private property in the remote country constitutes an intentional tort of trespass. The two lovebirds entered into a private property without authorization from or knowledge of the owner. Cathy and William (2003) says that in most cases, defendants may be excused from trespass suits if there is evidence that the trespassing act occurred unintentionally, for example during sleepwalking. However, the teenager delinquently drove into a remote location without regard to the trespass duty. Therefore, this act of intentional entry into a private land without authorization amounts to trespass.
- Defense: Private Necessity
Based on the teenager’s nature of trespass, one reasonable defense for his action would be private necessity. According to Arthur and Barner (2007), this defense usually features when an invasion into a private property was motivated by the need to pursue harmless personal interests. In this case, the defendant in subject was interested in finding a private place to conduct his love affairs with his girlfriend. Legally, a plaintiff should not force a defendant to exit his property until the underlying pursuit of personal interest is fulfilled. Therefore, the teenager had a right to complete his romantic affairs inside the private property without interference from the owner.
- Causation: Direct Factual
Regardless of the proposed defense, causation of this trespass tort still remains factual. Arthur and Barner (2007) agree that the trespass occurred intentionally, and ended up causing physical damage on the property. When the two lovers were ordered to leave the premises, the teenager aimed at a sign within the property and knocked it down, resulting in physical damage. In this case, the physical damage caused by the speeding car was as a result of the trespass. Had the boy failed to trespass the property, no damage or emotional injury would have occurred; hence the intention to trespass stands as a factual causation in this tort.
Apart from intentional torts, the teenager’s driving and shooting spree lead to negligence torts. The first type of negligence committed within the case study is misfeasance. According to Jenny (2010), misfeasance involves the process of acting negligently, thus causing either physical or emotional harm to the plaintiff. As the case study unfolds, it became apparent that the teenager act of driving fast caused a cycling boy to lose control and hit a tree. As a pedestrian rushed to help the boy, the pedestrian was hit by another car; hence triggering a series of transferred intention. Based on this incident, the tort of misfeasance surfaces since the driving teenager failed to act carefully, thus causing harm to both the boy and the pedestrian.
- Defense: Contributory negligence
In contributory negligence, the main objective is to proof that the plaintiff was slightly responsible for his own injury. With respect to the bicycle accident, it is evident that the cycling boy failed to take any last chance to avoid his injury. In this case, the boy should have stopped his bicycle upon realizing that the teenager’s car was over speeding. On the other hand, the defendant will argue that the injured pedestrian acted willingly, thus risking his own safety. Jenny (2010) agree that the pedestrian acted negligently by offering to help a boy with full knowledge that he was on the road with speeding vehicles. In this context, the doctrine of contributory negligence will act a perfect defense in both incidences.
- Causation: Direct Proximate Causation
With respect to the bicycle injury, there was a direct proximate causation. The teenager knew that speedy driving endangers the safety of other road users. It is undeniable that the delinquent driver was aware of foreseeable harm that could befall any other road users, especially pedestrians and cyclers. In this context, it is irrespective whether the defendant could gauge the entire extend of impending damage of their actions. Proximate causation stands as long as the defendant could foresee that speedy driving will lead to injury and harm to other stakeholders within the infrastructure.
- Creation of Peril
When the teenager drove into a private property in the country side, he created peril on the property owner. The property owner did not invite the trespasser into his premises. As a result of negligence, the teenager was able to create an unforeseeable peril on the land owner. After being forced to leave the premise, the teenager admitted of firing shots towards the land owner. In this case, such act of carelessly firing shots towards a property owner amounts to creation of peril; hence qualifies as an act of negligence tort.
- Defense: Discovered Trespasser Rule
The rule of discovered trespasser provides an exception where a property owner owes care to a trespasser. Duty of care and non-intimidation holds when the landowner has discovered presence of a trespasser. With respect to the case study, the land owner in subject discovered about the two teenagers without the latter’s knowledge. Harari (2013) says that commonly, tort law makes it clear that in case of discovered trespasser situation, a land owner has a duty to warn the defendant in a safe and civilized manner. In addition, the landowner should ensure safe exit of the trespasser, unlike the manner in which the plaintiff in subject scared the teenagers with gunshots. Therefore, the defendant will argue that his actions which led to physical damages within the property resulted from failure of the plaintiff to exercise the discovered trespasser exception rule.
- Causation: Alternative Liability
Alternative liability applies when the burden of proof keeps shifting from one defendant to another. With respect to the creation of peril tort, it is apparent that there were two defendants in the property damage incident. According to Harari (2013), alternative liability causation applies because both defendants acted negligently. First, the teenager created peril by driving intentionally towards the sign and firing shots towards the plaintiff. On the other hand, the plaintiff acted negligently by ignoring the discovered trespasser duty and unsafely forcing the defendant out of his property.
Arthur, B. & Barner, W. (2007). Basic Tort Law: Cases, Statuses and Problems. Harrisburg: Aspen Publishers Online.
Cathy, J. O. & William, R. (2003). Torts and Personal Injury Law: A Case Study Approach. New York: Cengage Learning.
Harari, A. (2013). The place of Negligence and Intention in the Law of Torts. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
Jenny, S. (2010). Tort Law: Text, Cases and Materials. London: Oxford University Press.