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CIVIL LAW DOCTRINES

Attractive nuisance doctrine

Under the attractive nuisance doctrine of the law of torts, a landowner may be held liable for injuries to children trespassing on
the land if the injury is caused by a hazardous object or condition on the land that is likely to attract children, who are unable to
appreciate the risk posed by the object or condition. The doctrine has been applied to hold landowners liable for injuries caused by
abandoned cars, piles of lumber or sand, trampolines, and swimming pools. However, it can be applied to virtually anything on the
property of the landowner.
There are five conditions that must be met in order for a land owner to be liable for tort damages to a child trespasser. The five
conditions are:
I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.

The place where the condition exists is one upon which the possessor knows or has reason to know that children are likely
to trespass, and
The condition is one of which the possessor knows or has reason to know and which he realizes or should realize will
involve an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to such children,
The children because of their youth do not discover the condition or realize the risk involved in intermeddling with it or in
coming within the area made dangerous by it
The utility to the possessor of maintaining the condition and the burden of eliminating the danger are slight as compared
with the risk to children involved, and
The possessor fails to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger or otherwise to protect the children

Calculus of negligence or Hand Rule

The calculus of negligence, or "Hand rule," is a term coined by Judge Learned Hand and describes a process for determining
whether a legal duty of care has been breached (see negligence). The original description of the calculus was in U.S. v. Carroll
Towing, 159 F.2d 169 (2d Cir. 1947), in which an improperly secured barge drifted away from pier and sank. Hand stated:
The owner's duty, as in other similar situations, to provide against resulting injuries is a function of three variables: (1) The
probability that she will break away; (2) the gravity of the resulting injury, if she does; (3) the burden of adequate precautions.

Caveat emptor

Latin for "Let the buyer beware".Generally Caveat Emptor was the property law doctrine that controlled the sale of real property
after the date of 'closing'. Under the doctrine of Caveat Emptor, the buyer could not recover from the seller for defects on the
property that rendered the property unfit for ordinary purposes. The only exception was if the seller actively concealed latent
defects.

Caveat venditor

Caveat venditor is Latin for "let the seller beware". It is a counter to caveat emptor, and suggests that sellers too can be deceived in
a market transaction. This forces the seller to take responsibility for the product, and discourages sellers from selling products of
unreasonable quality.

Contra proferentem

A rule of contract interpretation which states that a contractual term found to be ambiguous should be construed against the party
that drafted the contract. That is, the preferred interpretation will be the one that works in favor of the party who did not draft the
contract. The reasoning behind this rule is to encourage the drafter of a contract to be as clear and explicit as possible and to take
into account as many foreseeable situations as he can.

Duty of care
In tort law, a duty of care is a legal obligation imposed on an individual requiring that they exercise a
reasonable standard of care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. For an action in
negligence, there must be an identified duty of care in law.
Eggshell skull rule
The eggshell skull rule (or thin-skull rule) is a legal doctrine used in both tort law and criminal law that
holds an individual liable for all consequences resulting from their activities leading to an injury to another
person, even if the victim suffers unusual damages due to a pre-existing vulnerability or medical condition.

The term implies that if a person had a skull as delicate as the shell of an egg, and a tortfeasor or assailant
who did not know of that condition were to hit that person on the head, causing the skull unexpectedly to
break, the responsible party would be held liable for all damages resulting from the wrongful contact, even
though they were not foreseeable. The general maxim is that the defendant must "take their victim as they
find them".
The doctrine is applied in all areas of torts - intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability cases - as well as
in criminal law. There is no requirement of physical contact with the victim - if a trespasser's wrongful
presence on the victim's property so terrifies the victim that he has a fatal heart attack, the trespasser will be
liable for the damages stemming from his original tort. The foundation for this rule is based primarily on
policy grounds. The courts do not want the accused to rely on the victim's own vulnerability to avoid
liability.

Crumbling skull
A defense against the eggshell skull rule is the crumbling skull rule. The rule rebuts the eggshell skull by
arguing that whatever harm incurred by the victim was inevitable and the defendant's acts only had a
minimal effect upon the already deteriorating circumstances. For example, a dying patient is treated
improperly by a doctor. Though the doctor did more harm than good, he cannot be held liable for the death of
the patient because of the crumbling skull rule.
The crumbling skull rule can be seen as denying causation rather than rebutting the eggshell skull rule itself.
In crumbling skull cases, it generally cannot be argued that, but for the defendant's actions, the harm to the
victim would not have occurred.

Laches is an equitable defense, or doctrine, in an action at law. The person invoking laches is asserting that
an opposing party has "slept on its rights", and that, as a result of this delay, that other party is no longer
entitled to its original claim. Put another way, failure to assert ones rights in a timely manner can result in
claims being barred by laches. Laches is a form of estoppel for delay. In Latin,
Vigilantibus non dormientibus quitas subvenit.
Equity aids the vigilant, not the negligent (that is, those who sleep on their rights).
In most contexts, an essential element of laches is the requirement that the party invoking the doctrine has
changed its position as a result of the delay. In other words, the defendant is in a worse position now than at
the time the claim should have been brought. For example, the delay in asserting the claim may have caused
a great increase in the potential damages to be awarded; or assets that could earlier have been used to satisfy
the claim may have been distributed in the meantime; or the property in question may already have been
sold; or evidence or testimony may no longer be available to defend against the claim.

In the law, a proximate cause is an event sufficiently related to a legally recognizable injury to be held the cause of that injury.
There are two types of causation in the law, cause-in-fact and proximate (or legal) cause. Cause-in-fact is determined by the
"but-for" test: but for the action, the result would not have happened. For example, but for running the red light, the collision
would not have occurred. For an act to cause a harm, both tests must be met; proximate cause is a legal limitation on causein-fact.

The most common test of proximate cause is foreseeability. It determines if the harm resulting from an
action was reasonably able to be predicted. The test is used in most cases only in respect to the type of harm.
It is foreseeable that throwing a baseball at someone could cause them a blunt-force injury. But proximate
cause is still met if a thrown baseball misses the target and knocks a heavy object off of a shelf behind them,
which causes a blunt-force injury.
This is also known as the "extraordinary in hindsight rule.

Res ipsa loquitur is a legal term from the Latin meaning literally, "The thing itself speaks" but is more often
translated "The thing speaks for itself". The doctrine is applied to tort claims which, as a matter of law, do
not have to be explained beyond the obvious facts. It is most useful to plaintiffs in certain negligence cases.
Under the old common law rule, to use res ipsa loquitur in the context of negligence the plaintiff must prove
that:
1. The harm would not ordinarily have occurred without someone's negligence
2. The instrumentality of the harm was under the exclusive control of the defendant at the time of the
likely negligent act
3. The plaintiff did not contribute to the harm by his own negligence.
This is usually referred to in the "scalpel left behind" example of obvious negligence in the case of a
physician, in which a person goes in to a doctor for stomach pains after having their appendix removed. XRays determine the patient has a metal object in the size and shape of a scalpel in his stomach. It requires no
further explanation to show the doctor was negligent, as there is no legitimate reason for a doctor to leave a
scalpel behind in an appendix operation.
In tort law, the standard of care is the degree of prudence and caution required of an individual who is
under a duty of care. A breach of the standard is necessary for a successful action in negligence.
Unclean hands, sometimes clean hands doctrine, is an equitable defense in which the defendant argues that
the plaintiff is not entitled to obtain an equitable remedy on account of the fact that the plaintiff is acting
unethically or has acted in bad faith with respect to the subject of the complaintthat is, with "unclean
hands." The defendant has the burden of proof to show the plaintiff is not acting in good faith. The doctrine
is often stated as "those seeking equity must do equity" or "equity must come with clean hands".
Vicarious liability is a form of strict, secondary liability that arises under the common law doctrine of
agency respondeat superior the responsibility of the superior for the acts of their subordinate, or, in a
broader sense, the responsibility of any third party that had the "right, ability or duty to control" the activities
of a violator. It can be distinguished from contributory liability, another form of secondary liability, which is
rooted in the tort theory of Enterprise Liability.