A case describes a dispute taken to court. An appellate court decision published in a book of such decisions is also called a case and may be used as guidance or precedent by other courts. A person doing legal research will commonly say that he has to look up a case to see if its ruling on a point should be followed by other courts. The core legal issue in a case is sometimes referred to as the gravaman of the case.
A contested question before a court of justice; a suit or action; a cause.
Remedies. This is the name of an action in very general use which lies where a party sues for damages for any wrong or cause of complaint to which covenant or trespass will not lie.
In its most comprehensive signification, case includes assumpsit as well as an action in form ex delicto; but when simply mentioned it is usually understood to mean an action in form ex delicto. It is a liberal action bailable at common law founded on the justice and conscience of the Tiff's case, and is in the nature of a bill in equity and the substance of a count in case is the damage assigned.
An action on the case lies to recover damages for torts not committed with force actual or implied, or having been occasioned by force where the matter affected was not tangible, or where the injury was not immediate but consequential; or where the interest in the property was only in reversion. In these several cases trespass cannot be sustained. Case is also the proper remedy for a wrongful act done under legal process regularly issuing from a court of competent jurisdiction.
It will be proper to consider: 1. in what cases the action of trespass on the case lies; 2. the pleadings 3. the evidence; 4. the judgment.
This action lies for injuries; 1. to the absolute rights of persons 2. to the relative rights of persons; 3. to personal property; 4. to real property.
- 1. When the injury has been done to the absolute rights of persons by an act not immediate but consequential, as in the case of special damages arising from a public nuisance or where an incumbrance had been placed in a public street and the plaintiff passing there received an injury; or for a malicious prosecution.
- 2. For injuries to the relative rights, as for enticing away an infant child, per quod servitium amisit, for criminal conversation, seducing or harboring wives; debauching daughters, but in this case the daughter must live with her father as his servant; or enticing away or harboring apprentices or servants. When the seduction takes place in the husband's or father's house, he may, at his election, have trespass or case, but when the injury is done in the house of another, case is the proper remedy.
- 3. When the injury to personal property is without force and not immediate, but consequential, or when the plaintiff's right to it is in reversion, as where property is injured by a third person while in the hands of a hirer, case is the proper remedy.
- 4. When the real property which has been injured is corporeal and the injury is not immediate but consequential, as for example, putting a spout so near the plaintiff's land that the water runs upon it or where the plaintiff's property is only in reversion. When the injury has been done to incorporeal rights, as for obstructing a private way, or disturbing a party in the use of a pew, or for injury to a franchise, as a ferry, and the like, case is the proper remedy.
The declaration in case, technically so called, differs from a declaration in trespass, chiefly in this; that in case, it must not, in general, state the injury to have been committed vi et armis; yet after verdict, the words 'with force and arms' will be rejected as surplusage and it ought not to conclude contra pacem. The plea is usually the general issue, not guilty.
Any matter may, in general, be given in evidence, under the plea of not guilty, except the statute of limitations. In cases of slander and a few other instances, however, this cannot be done. When the plaintiff declares in case with averments appropriate to that form of action and the evidence shows that the injury was trespass; or when he declares in trespass and the evidence proves an injury for which case will lie, and not trespass, the defendant should be acquitted by the jury or the plaintiff should be nonsuited.
The judgment is that the plaintiff recover a sum of money, ascertained by a jury, for his damages sustained by the committing of the grievances complained of in the declaration, and costs.
In the civil law an action was given in all cases of nominate contracts which was always of the same name. But in innominate contracts, which had always the same consideration, but not the same name, there could be no action of the same denomination, but an action which arose from the fact, in factum, or an action with a form which arose from the particular circumstance, praescriptis verbis actio.