Dirty Harriet: The Restatement (Third) of Torts and the Causal Relevance of Intent

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  • August 3, 2015

Imagine a situation where eight tortfeasors, acting independently but simultaneously, negligently lean on a car, which is parked at a scenic overlook in the mountains. Their combined forces result in the car rolling over the edge of the mountain and plummeting to its destruction. The force of all but one of the tortfeasors constituted the same percent of the force necessary to propel the car over the edge. Now imagine that the owner of the car, Dirty Harriet, because of her slight build, only exerted one percent of the force necessary to propel the car over the edge, however Dirty Harriet, seeing an opportunity to replace her lemon of a car, acts purposefully to push the car over the edge. Under the Restatement (Third) of Torts, Harriet’s state of mind may be relevant to the question of who caused the car to be destroyed. In this Note, Mr. Morris proposes that, in Dirty Harriet-type cases, courts, who may be unwilling to remain faithful to the Restatement framework, should instead apply the traditional concerted action doctrine.