Who doesn't love Judge Judy? She's like that aunt you have that says wild things that you wish you could say Her Honour DNGAF.
Judge Judy isn't a judge, she was but she is no longer- in fact it's probably more correct to say that she is not exercising her duties as a judge on television.
The cases are real, the people are real and the cases are sort of final. People who go before Judge Judy have agreed to have their cases decided by a private arbitrator (the good Judge) and have agreed to have it finalised in front of her, her cameras and her audience.
It doesn't mean that what she's doing isn't legally sound, it is! Let me use Judge Judy's legal brain and brisque demeanor to teach you about torts law.
But first, we Judy:
The law of torts is the law of civil wrongs, things like negligence, trespass, defamation, that sort of thing. Torts law usually involves one person suffering some sort of loss or harm due to the action or inaction or liability by another person.
What Happened In This Case
One party lit a fire using kerosene instead of proper lighter fluid, because the fire was quite out of control because it wasn't lit properly it caused burns to the Plaintiff.
A quick note: the Plaintiff is the person petitioning the court with a grievance, the Defendant is the person defending themselves against the Plaintiff's claim.
Negligence under torts law is a failure to exercise appropriate care or caution that can be expected to be exercised in a specific circumstance.
What does that actually mean? It basically means that to be negligent is to not have the required care that is to be expected when doing or not doing something, in this case it's care when starting a fire.
The Defendant used kerosene instead of proper lighter fluid to start a fire, the fire got out of control and it caused injury to the Plaintiff.
The defendant clearly doesn't think what he did was wrong or negligent, but really that doesn't matter. The test here is not what the defendant thinks is careful and reasonable but what a reasonable person would think is careful and reasonable.
To resolve this, Her Honour used the test of 'causation' or 'proximity'. Hear her explain the test below (from 9:00 onward):
A test of 'proximity' or 'causation' is as follows:
How close is the negligent act to the loss or damaged sustained, or in other words, did the negligent act cause the loss or damage, is there a direct link instead of a loose or indirect one?
Or as Her Honour puts it:
In this instance, the Defendant's act is directly responsible for the injury of the Plaintiff, because had it not been for the negligent act of the Defendant, the Plaintiff would not have been burned, one caused the other- there is causation.
Judgement for the Plaintiff for $5,000 USD.