action on the case


action on the case
A common law species of personal action of formerly extensive application, otherwise called "trespass on the case," or simply "case," from the circumstance of the plaintiffs whole case or cause of complaint being set forth at length in the original writ by which formerly it was always commenced.
In its most comprehensive signification it includes assumpsit as well as an action in form ex delicto ; though when it is mentioned it is usually understood to mean an action in form ex delicto. It is founded on the common law or upon acts of Parliament, and lies generally 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 the injury was not immediate but consequential; or where the interest in the property was only in reversion, in all of which cases trespass is not sustainable. In the progress of judicial contestation it was discovered that there was a mass of tortious wrongs unattended by direct and immediate force, or where the force, though direct, was not expended on an existing right of present enjoyment, for which the then known forms of action furnished no redress. The action on the case was instituted to meet this want. And wrongs which will maintain an action on the case are frequently committed in the nonobservance of duties, which are but the implication of contract obligation, duties of requisite skill, fidelity, diligence, and a proper regard for the rights of others, implied in every obligation to serve another. If the cause of action arises from a breach of promise, the action is "ex contractu"; but if the cause of action arises from a breach of duty growing out of the contract, it is in form ex delicto and case. When there is a contract, either express or implied, from which a common-law duty results, an action on the case lies for the breach of that duty. Such form of action no longer exists under Code and Rule pleading.

Black's law dictionary. . 1990.

Look at other dictionaries:

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