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Torts: Intentional?

Pilot was the owner of a small passenger plane. To help pay for the costs of fuel and maintenance, Pilot would occasionally take small groups of paid passengers on short flights. One afternoon, Dan hired Pilot to take Dan on a 2-hour flight from the airport where Pilot's plane was located to another small airport in a nearby state. Approximately one hour into the flight, the plane suddenly began to lose altitude for no apparent reason. Pilot attempted to regain control of the plane and climb to a normal altitude, but all of her efforts were unsuccessful and the plane began to descend at a very rapid speed.

Pilot quickly realized that she would have to make an emergency landing. Looking out the window she saw a small but apparently vacant field adjacent to a farm owned by Farmer. Pilot decided that this field presented the best possibility for a safe landing since the other possible landing areas were either covered with a grove of trees or a subdivision of homes. Pilot managed to lower the landing gear and guide the plane into a high speed landing on the field. Due to the rapid descent, the plane caused severe damage to Farmer's crops that Pilot did not see from the air because the field had just recently been planted.

Once the plane had come to a stop, Pilot tried but could not open the door on her side because it was damaged during the landing. Pilot knew that the fuel lines had probably been ruptured in the crash and was concerned about a possibility of fire. She immediately told Dan to open the passenger door and exit the plane. Dan refused and told Pilot, "I'm not moving one inch until the fire department arrives and tells me that it is safe to do so!" The plane had only one exit door and it was located next to the passenger seat where Dan was sitting. Pilot could not leave the plane unless Dan moved. After arguing with Dan for a few minutes, Pilot finally grabbed Dan and pushed him aside. Pilot ran from the plane while Dan waited inside. Dan remained in the plane until the fire department rescue team told him it was safe to leave the plane.

As a result of the crash, Farmer suffered several thousand dollars in damage to his land. Neither Dan nor Pilot suffered any physical injuries.

1. Does Farmer have any claim(s) for damages against Pilot based on intentional tort? Discuss.

2. Does Dan have any claim(s) against Pilot for intentional tort? Discuss.

3. Does Pilot have any claim(s) against Dan for intentional tort? Discuss.

Solution Preview

Q. 1.
To solve this problem, you must look to the elements of an intentional tort. In general, an intentional tort requires deliberate actions that resulted in harm (actual monetary or physical losses or damages are not required for many torts, but harm is required for most). For this question, you have to put yourself in the farmer's shoes, and ask whether the pilot deliberately acted in a way that harmed the farmer. The fact is, the farmer's property was damaged. You must determine whether it was the result of deliberate choices made by the pilot regarding the land. Not every tort requires an intent to cause harm. Some torts only require intent to act. You should at least take a look at the elements (the precise definition) of trespass, conversion, and nuisance, and discuss each of the elements by explaining how the pilot did or did not act deliberately. Take a look at Steiner's simple Tort's outline, here http://www.stcl.edu/students/SBA%20Outline%20Bank/Torts%20I%20-%20Steiner.htm or the Law Law Stud Torts outline here: ...

Solution Summary

To solve this problem, you must look to the elements of an intentional tort. In general, an intentional tort requires deliberate actions that resulted in harm (actual monetary or physical losses or damages are not required for many torts, but harm is required for most).

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