Trespass On The Case – action to recover damages which occurred as a consequence for another’s action or inaction such as negligence, fraud, slander, deceit, omissions, etc.

trespass on the case:

1. At common law, a lawsuit to recover damages that are not the immediate result of a wrongful act but rather a later consequence.  The lawsuit was instituted by a writ of trespass on the case.  It was the precursor to a variety of modern-day tort claims, including negligence, nuisance, & business torts. — Often shortened to case. — aka action on the case; breve de transgressione super casum. [1]

     Excerpt from Edwin E. Bryant’s The Law of Pleading Under the Codes of Civl Procedure (2d ed. 1899):

     “The most important of the writs framed under the authority of the statute of Westminster 2 is that of ‘trespass on the case’, to meet cases analogous to trespass in delict, but lacking the element of direct or immediate force or violence. This writ gave a form of action in which the court was enabled to render judgment of damages in cases of fraud, deceit, negligence, want of skill, defamation oral or written, & all other injurious acts or omissions resulting in harm to person or property, but wanting the vi et armis (“with force & arms”), the element of direct force & violence, to constitute trespass.” [2]

     Another excerpt from Edwin E. Bryant’s The Law of Pleading Under the Codes of Civl Procedure (2d ed. 1899):

     “Common law recognizes a distinction between the actions of trespass vi et armis (or simply trespass) and trespass on the case.  This distinction has been expressed by stating that a tort committed by the direct application of force is remediable by an action for trespass, while a tort accomplished indirectly is a matter for trespass on the case.  Other authority makes the distinction on the basis of the defendant’s intent, stating that trespass involves a willful and deliberate act while trespass on the case contemplates an act or omission resulting from negligence.” [2]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]:  Edwin E. Bryant, The Law of Pleading Under the Codes of Civl Procedure 7 (2d ed. 1899)

To be Added:

[2]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931


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