Sec. 270. In general: Is the obligation quasi contractual ?

Sec. 271. (I) Essential elements of the obligation :

(1) The commission of a tort. Sec. 272. (2) The receipt of a benefit by the tort-feasor. Sec. 273. Same : Must benefit consist of money received ?

Sec. 274. Same: Must benefit consist of something taken from injured party ? Sec. 275. Same : The taking of intangible things.

Sec. 276. (II) Application of doctrine to particular torts. Sec. 277. (1) Conversion. Sec. 278. Same: Goods obtained by fraud.

Sec. 279. Same: Goods or money received from a converter.

Sec. 280. Same: Goods used and returned.

Sec. 281. (2) Deceit.

Sec. 282. Same: Inducing void marriage by false representations.

Sec. 283. (3) Trespass on land. Sec. 284. Same : Use and occupation.

Sec. 285. (4) Abduction of child or servant: Inducing breach of contract. Sec. 286. (5) False imprisonment: Service under compulsion. Sec. 287. (6) Usurpation of office. Sec. 288. (7) Infringement of patent rights.

Sec. 289. (III) The liability of joint tort-feasors.

Sec. 290. (IV) Rights of owners in common.

Sec. 291. (V) Infancy or insanity as a defense or in mitigation.

Sec. 292. (VI) Measure of recovery. Sec. 293. Same : Interest.

Sec. 294. (VII) Statute of limitations.

Sec. 295. (VIII) Effect of judgment against one of two tort-feasors.

Sec. 296. (IX) Effect of judgment in favor of one of two tort-feasors.

Sec. 297. (X) Effect of satisfaction by one of two tort-feasors.

Sec. 298. (XI) What constitutes an election. Sec. 299. Same: The case of joint tort-feasors.

Sec. 300. Same: The case of successive converters.

Sec. 270. In general: Is the obligation quasi contractual ? - Upon the commission of a tort an obligation always rests upon the tort-feasor to compensate the person injured for the damage suffered by him. The commission of a tort, however, frequently results not only in damage to the person injured but in a benefit to the tort-feasor. In the case of conversion by the wrongful sale of another's goods, for example, the owner suffers damage to the extent of the value of the goods and the converter is benefited to the extent of the sum realized by the sale. Where-ever there is such an enrichment of the wrongdoer he is clearly under a moral obligation (aside from the obligation to pay damages) to make restitution, either in specie or in value. Although the injured party already had an adequate remedy at law, it is not surprising that the courts came to regard this moral obligation to make restitution as analogous to a debt, and by the familiar device of a fictitious promise, brought it within the reach of the simple and convenient remedy of indebitatus assumpsit.

Is this obligation of the tort-feasor, enforceable in assumpsit, a primary obligation which results from the violation of another primary obligation, i.e. the obligation not to commit a tort? Or is it, like the obligation to pay damages, a secondary obligation arising upon the commission of a tort ? As a matter of legal theory, it seems more reasonable to say that in these cases, as in those in which restitution is allowed as a remedy for the repudiation or substantial breach of a contract (ante, Sec. 260), there is only one primary obligation, and that upon the violation of such primary obligation the person injured may elect to demand damages or restitution. If this is the true view, the topic of the present chapter belongs to the law of torts or of damages. But, as a matter of fact, the obligation to make restitution has been regarded generally as a primary one; and since, if it is primary, it obviously must be quasi contractual, a consideration of the subject in this book will not be out of place.