Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-mhx7p Total loading time: 0.239 Render date: 2022-05-22T05:35:29.595Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

15 - Strict Liability: Conversion, Abnormally Dangerous Activities, and Nuisance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2016

Keith N. Hylton
Affiliation:
Boston University School of Law
Get access

Summary

Two sources of strict liability evolved early in the common law: trespass and Rylands v. Fletcher. Liability under trespass law is strict in the sense that the plaintiff does not have to prove fault on the part of the defendant. In a trespass action, the facts need only show that the defendant was aware of what he was doing when he interfered with the plaintiff's exclusive right of possession.

Similarly, the Rylands strict liability doctrine does not require the plaintiff to prove fault on the part of the defendant. The defendant will be held liable under Rylands if he keeps something on his property that escapes without the plaintiff's fault and causes harm, provided that certain conditions determining the unreasonableness of the defendant's activity are satisfied. Those conditions were examined in Chapter 5 and are reexamined in much greater detail here.

While Chapters 4 and 5 developed functionalist accounts of trespass and Rylands liability, this chapter will extend those perspectives to the doctrines of conversion, abnormally dangerous activities, and nuisance. Conversion is an offshoot of trespass, whereas abnormally dangerous activities and nuisance are offshoots of Rylands.

TRESPASS-BASED STRICT LIABILITY

The major categories of trespass-based strict liability are trespass to real property, trespass to chattels (personal property), and conversion. The law across these categories is consistent.

Trespass is the intentional interference with exclusive possession of real property. A trespass claim can be brought against the interfering party by the owner of the property or by someone who has a right to possess the property. Interference means ousting or physically displacing the plaintiff from some space on his land, as occurs when the defendant physically occupies the space or sends some object, such as a rock, over to the plaintiff's land (Chapter 4). The law defines this interference on the basis of visual cues, not science. One could argue that on a sufficiently small scale of measurement, at the molecular or atomic level, the plaintiff's exclusive possession has been invaded when the defendant's cigarette smoke wafts across the property boundary to the plaintiff's land. But this type of invasion generally has not been recognized as a trespass.

Type
Chapter
Information
Tort Law
A Modern Perspective
, pp. 271 - 300
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×