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tort, in law, the violation of some duty clearly set by law, not by a specific agreement between two parties, as in breach of contract. When such a duty is breached, the injured party has the right to institute suit for compensatory damages. Certain torts, such as nuisance, may be suppressed by injunction. Many crimes are also torts; burglary, for instance, often constitutes trespass.

The history of Anglo-American tort law can be traced back to the action for trespass to property or to the person. Not until the late 18th cent. was the currently observed distinction made between injury willfully inflicted and that which is unintentional. In the early 19th cent., negligence was distinguished as a separate tort, and it has come to supply a large portion of tortious litigation.

The general tendency today is to rule that the breach of any duty constitutes a tort, rather than to rule that an alleged tort must fit into some previously recognized variety, such as assault, false imprisonment, or libel. Some courts treat any willful unjustified injury as tortious, while others hold that the act must be defined as tortious by law, regardless of the perpetrator's motive. Torts that injure reputation or feelings are personal torts; those violating statutory rights are constitutional torts; those involving real or personal property are property torts. Property torts include several classes of torts, such as automobile accidents, negligence, product liability, and medical malpractice.

In some areas, tort liability can be assigned without a finding of fault, as in no-fault automobile insurance. In areas where the finding of fault remains crucial, and the awards of compensatory or punitive damages can be substantial, tort litigation can be time-consuming and costly. Its defenders claim tort litigation promotes safety and economic efficiency, while critics argue the process does little but raise insurance premiums while providing windfalls to a handful of lawyers. Efforts to reform tort law hope to set limits to damage settlements and to broaden no-fault statutes for use in alternative forms of litigation. In the 1990s many U.S. states, pressed chiefly by conservatives and business interests, passed laws limiting damages, but state courts have repeatedly voided these limits as violations of “open courts” guarantees in state constitutions.

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Law a civil wrong arising from an act or failure to act, independently of any contract, for which an action for personal injury or property damages may be brought
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
"Even if Eichenholz's tortious interference claim did not constitute a recast version of his discrimination claims, he cannot prove, based on the summary judgment record, that Campbell acted with actual malice.
two parties, (22) tortious interference with a prospective economic
The Cassation Court further highlighted that the employer was only entitled in such circumstances to claim compensation from the contractor based on the actual damages resulting from the contractor's delay based on tortious liability.
Tortious acts while picketing can be brought to the Labour Relations Board, typically in the form of cease and desist applications and directives to stop the wrongful picketing behaviour.
Tortious interference with a contractual relationship relates to intentionally damaging a contractual business relationship, which generally requires a showing of that the defendant knew of the contract and intentionally acted improperly resulting in harm to the plaintiff.
In doing so, the Court explained that Leigh's conduct could be considered tortious if his efforts to impair the success of Isom's business were done primarily for the "improper purpose" or improper motive of driving Isom out of business due to ill will and animosity between the parties, not simply to further Leigh's own economic interests.
Reportedly, in response to claims of trade secret misappropriation, breach of contract, tortious interference with a business relationship and patent infringement, the jury awarded TAOS USD48.8m in compensatory damages and USD10m in exemplary damages.
While courts have generally refused to allow insurers to assert tortious reverse bad faith claims and defenses, the justifications for refusing to do so are often lacking.
It uses the "but-for" test, which stipulates that the defendant's conduct is a factual cause of a plaintiff's injuries if the plaintiff's harm would not have occurred but for defendant's conduct; that is, in the absence of the defendant's tortious conduct.
It explains the nature of tortious liability, negligence, occupier's liability, nuisance, strict liability, trespass to land and the person, torts concerning goods and reputation, employment-related torts, and remedies and limitation periods.
The article bemoans the prospect of tort causes of action now being pled in conjunction with contract claims, and it predicts "the general public and Florida businesses will struggle to determine if they can continue to allocate the risks and rewards of a transaction by contract." Perhaps another and better way to view the issue is to ask whether a contract should serve as a license to commit tortious acts.
Finding that Mayfair had alleged only intentional conduct in its claims against Szura for tortious interference with a contract and tortious interference with business relationships, and conspiracy to tortiously interfere with Mayfair's contract rights and business relationships, the circuit court concluded that General Insurance had no duty to defend Szura.