HYPOTHETICAL: Mary Murphy, a model of some renown, was visiting her brother, Mitch, in Shelby County, Alabama. She and her brother were close, but had not seen each other in some time. When he greeted her at the door, they hugged, gave each other a quick kiss on the cheek, and disappeared into the house, eager to catch up on each other’s lives. Unbenown to them, Carl Shutterbug, a writer for the Evening Rag, was hiding in the bushes beside the house, taking pictures.
Three days later, Mary went to the local grocery store and noticed that people were staring at her. She was used to that, to some degree, being a model and all, but she felt sure they were exhibiting disapproval. One man who was squeezing oranges even turned and went to the squash display, obviously uncomfortable with being so near her. When she got to the check-out, she was horrified! She saw a picture of her brother and herself in an embrace, but there had been some creative work done on the photograph making it appear that her brother had his hand on her backside. Carl Shutterbug’s picture was placed prominently in the article, and he was given credit for the “scoop.” Mary rushed from the store, livid, intending to go to the Evening Rag to “have it out” with Carl. She backed out of the parking space, burning rubber, and shot through the red light at the entrance to the parking lot. An 18-wheeler saw her, but the driver could not stop because Pepper, his little dog, had jumped into the floorboard. Mary was transported to the hospital after the crash, and her brother, Mitch, was notified. Mitch rushed to the hospital, and lo! and behold!, there stood Carl, trying to get pictures of the bruised, bleeding Mary. Mitch ran over, shouted, “You slug,” and punched Carl in the face. He drew back to hit Carl again, but when he swung, Carl ducked, and Mitch hit an orderly, who dropped the tray he was carrying. The tray contained vials of fluids, which quickly made a slippery mess in the floor. Carl fell, dislocating his shoulder and lacerating his leg. The intern put 17 stitches in it, told him he deserved anything he got (he’d talked with Mary when she was admitted), and sent him on his way.
- Which torts, if any, have been committed?
- What are the elements of those torts?
- If an act would have been a tort, but is missing elements, which elements are missing?
- What defenses might be alleged?
- Who might be liable for what?