Sample Torts Essay Questions

Fact Pattern

A and B are neighbors. On May 1, A asks B, “Could I borrow your riding lawnmower to cut my grass this weekend?” B replies, “Sure, just bring it back by next weekend.” B gives A the key to the mower, whereupon A drives it to A’s garage. At this time, B’s mower is well-maintained and in good working order. The following Saturday, May 4, A uses B’s mower to mow A’s lawn. A does not immediately return the mower to B, but leaves it parked in A’s garage.

On May 10, A decides to use the mower for recreation. Specifically, part of A’s property is wooded, and A drives the mower through the woods at high speed—over fallen logs, through mud, and among the trees. A also decides to test the mower’s capabilities by attempting to mow a stand of heavy brush at the edge of the woods. The mower is not designed to cut anything thicker than grass; while trying to mow the brush, A hears several loud and unusual noises coming from underneath the mower.

On June 15, B asks A to return the mower, and A does so. Upon returning the mower, A states that he forgot to bring it back until B asked about it. B immediately notices that the mower is caked in mud, has several dents in the body, and has a flat rear tire. When B attempts to operate the mower, B discovers that the transmission shifts erratically, and that the shaft that turns the mower blades is bent, causing the blades to wobble and to cut improperly. Assume that A’s use of the mower caused all these problems.

B obtains an accurate repair estimate from the local dealership where B purchased the mower. The repairs to the body, tire, transmission, and blade shaft will cost a total of $950. Assume that these repairs are needed to restore the mower to the condition it was in when A first borrowed it. Assume further that the cost of the repairs is commercially reasonable.

B purchased the mower new, two years earlier, for $1,450. The same mower now costs $1,600 new.


  1. Does A’s conduct as a whole more likely constitute (a) trespass to chattel or (b) conversion? Explain, ignoring any potential defenses, but addressing the proper measure of damages.
  2. If B sues A over the mower, and A asserts the defense of consent, is that defense likely to succeed? Explain.

Torts Practice Exam

Read the following fact pattern, and answer the question. Give yourself 60 minutes to complete this exam. Do not go over the time limit.

We recommend that you take this exam only after you have completed your study of Negligence issues. If necessary, review the Torts Rules of Law before starting this exam.

Once you have completed the practice exam in the time allotted, then compare your answer with this Torts Sample Answer.

Torts Fact Pattern

David is driving 25 MPH in 25 MPH zone down a four lane street where there are children playing. One nine-year-old child, Kevin, runs into the street chasing a soccer ball. David, without looking over his shoulder, swerves into the other lane to avoid Kevin and in the process he hits a car, driven by Peter, that was speeding past him in the left-hand lane going in the same direction.

Peter loses control of his car, hits a telephone pole and is seriously and permanently injured. The telephone pole, owned by the local phone company TeleCo, easily snaps into two pieces and hits Kevin, who is still in the street, knocking him unconscious and resulting in permanent injuries.

TeleCo never did any testing of its poles to establish how easily the poles broke. The only factor used in manufacturing the poles was cost. The poles were made of low quality trees and were not treated in any significant manner except for a coating of tar. No reinforcement was used on the poles.

Question: What are the various liabilities and rights of the parties involved?

Once you have completed the practice exam in the time allotted, then compare your answer with this Torts Sample Answer.

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