Define: Action On The Case

Action On The Case
Action On The Case
Quick Summary of Action On The Case

Action on the case, also known as “case” or “assumpsit,” is a legal term referring to a type of civil lawsuit that allows plaintiffs to seek compensation for damages resulting from non-contractual wrongs or injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence or misconduct. Unlike actions based on breach of contract, which focus on violations of specific contractual terms, an action on the case is broader in scope and encompasses a wide range of wrongful acts or omissions that result in harm to the plaintiff. Common examples of actions on the case include claims for personal injury, property damage, negligence, nuisance, or fraud. To succeed in an action on the case, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed a duty of care, breached that duty through negligent or wrongful conduct, and caused harm or injury to the plaintiff as a result. If successful, the plaintiff may be entitled to monetary damages to compensate for their losses or injuries. Action on the case is a flexible and versatile legal remedy that allows plaintiffs to seek redress for a wide range of civil wrongs under the principles of tort law.

What is the dictionary definition of Action On The Case?
Dictionary Definition of Action On The Case

Action on the Case is a legal term that refers to a type of legal action or lawsuit that involves a complex and detailed examination of facts and evidence. It is typically used in common law jurisdictions, such as England and Wales. This term is often used to describe a legal proceeding where a party seeks a remedy for a wrong or injury suffered, and the case requires a thorough investigation and analysis of the facts and legal principles involved. Action on the Case is generally used when there is no specific legal remedy available, and the court must determine the appropriate remedy based on the circumstances of the case.

One of the old common-law forms of action that provided a remedy for the invasion of personal or property interests.

Full Definition Of Action On The Case

Action on the case is also called trespass on the case because it developed from the common-law action of trespass during the fifteenth century in England. Often, it is simply called a case.

The case differs from trespass in that it redresses more indirect injuries than the wilful invasion of the plaintiff’s property contemplated by trespass. It was designed to supplement the action of trespass. For example, a person struck by a log thrown over a fence could maintain an action of trespass against the thrower. If instead, the wrongdoer tossed the log into the street and the plaintiff was hurt by stumbling over it, the plaintiff could maintain an action on the case rather than trespass.

In pleading an action on the case, the plaintiff sets forth the circumstances of the entire case. In pleading an action on the case, the complaint differed from the forms used in pleading other actions because other actions generally had highly stylized and rigid forms that had to be followed word for word. The plaintiff in the action on the case alleged facts to show that (1) the defendant had some sort of duty; (2) the defendant had violated that duty; and (3) the result was harm to the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s property. Over the years, this action developed into a remedy for a wide variety of wrongs that were not redressed by other forms of action. For example, a plaintiff could sue a defendant who maintained a nuisance in the neighbourhood, who violated an easement or a right of way, or who committed libel, slander, malicious prosecution, fraud, or deceit. Most importantly, the action in the case came into common use as the legal method for compensating victims of negligence. It thus became one of the most widely used forms of action in the common-law system and gave birth to the modern law of torts.

When ejectment was still considered a modern improvement on trespass in England, it had already been abandoned in New England because of its complicated technical requirements. One of the reasons for the American experience is that law books were scarce in the colonies, and many judges were laymen. The most rigid applications of technical formalities came during the first half of the nineteenth century, after lawyers gained influence in the legal system.

Dissatisfaction with the technicalities of the forms soon began to peak. Code pleading was then introduced to replace the prior forms of action. An attempt was made to reduce the number of writs to a basic few that would be adequate for all of the different requirements of modern litigation. Attention was shifted from the form to the elements of a cause of action. The courts asked only whether the plaintiff had stated a claim on which relief could be granted. The objective was to decide whether the plaintiff was entitled to a remedy with as little procedural red tape as possible. When code pleading fell short of this goal, the modern law of civil procedure developed the theory that there should be only one form of action, civil action.

The old forms of action exist today only as names for procedures based on them and as the foundation of much of the substantive law. In Pennsylvania, for example, the word trespass is used for tort actions and assumpsit for lawsuits based upon contracts.

Historically, much of the law of tort was concerned with trespass of one form or another. A trespass was, and is, an interference with the rights of another person, either in person, land, or chattels. Trespass could generally only be found where the harm resulted from the direct action of the defendant—a blow, for example. There remained a residual ability to sue `in case’ or bring an `action on the case’ where the interference was not direct. For example, if the defendant threw a log onto the highway and it hit the claimant, this would have been a trespass. If the claimant injured himself by tripping over it, this would have allowed only an action “on the case.”. If the defendant threw the log with the intent to injure the claimant, then there was also the possibility of an action under the rule in Wilkinson v. Downtown 1897.

These days, `actions of the case’ have been subsumed into the general law of negligence, and the distinction between trespass and negligence now rests on the motive of the defendant, not the directness of the action (see Letang v. Cooper, 1964).

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 9th June 2024.

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