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Quiz 6 :

Tort Law

Quiz 6 :

Tort Law

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Two sisters, Darla and Irene, are partners in an import business located in a small town in Rhode Island. Irene is married to a well-known real estate developer and is campaigning to be the mayor of their town. Darla is in her mid-thirties and has never been married. Both sisters travel to other countries to purchase the goods they sell at their retail store. Irene buys Indonesian goods, and Darla buys goods from Africa. After a tsunami destroys many of the cities in Indonesia to which Irene usually travels, she phones one of her contacts there and asks him to procure some items and ship them to her. He informs her that it will be impossible to buy these items now because the townspeople are being evacuated due to a water shortage. Irene is angry and tells the man that if he cannot purchase the goods, he should just take them without paying for them after the town has been evacuated. Darla overhears her sister's instructions and is outraged. They have a falling-out, and Darla decides that she no longer wishes to be in business with her sister. Using the information presented in the chapter, answer the following questions. Suppose now that Irene, who is angry with her sister for disclosing her business improprieties, writes a letter to the editor falsely accusing Darla of having sexual relations with her neighbor's thirteen-yearold son. For what intentional tort or torts could Darla sue Irene in this situation? DEBATE THIS : Because of the often anonymous nature of the Internet, defamation has become an outdated legal concept. It's now too difficult to track down the person responsible for the defamatory statement.
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In such situation, D could sue her sister I for tort of libel as I made false and defamatory statement about her sister D, accusing her for having sexual relationship with her neighbor's son. The statement made by I about her sister is totally false and derogatory in nature. She made this statement just to take revenge from her sister as she disclosed her business improprieties. In addition to libel, she could also claim emotional distress caused on account of the false accusation.

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Intentional Torts against Property Gerrit is a former employee of ABC Auto Repair Co. He enters ABC's repair shop, claiming that the company owes him $800 in back wages. Gerrit argues with ABC's general manager, Steward, and Steward orders him off the property. Gerrit refuses to leave, and Steward tells two mechanics to throw him off the property. Gerrit runs to his truck, but on the way, he grabs some tools valued at $800; then he drives away. Gerrit refuses to return the tools. (a) Discuss whether Gerrit has committed any torts. (b) If the mechanics had thrown Gerrit off the property, would ABC be guilty of assault and battery? Explain.
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a) There are two possible torts that L can be held liable for - trespass and conversion. When S order G off the property and he refuses to leave, he is trespassing onto the property because G does not have permission to be there as he does not own the property. When G takes the tools, he could liable for conversion of the property as he is wrongfully possessing the tools without permission.
b) This would depend on the reasonable person standard - is the force reasonable in light of the facts? Here, G has been asked to leave and refused. He is now trespassing. As the property owner, S may remove G as long as he uses reasonable means. As long as the two men behaved as reasonable people would in like situation (i.e. not exerting unneeded force) then they would not be guilty of assault and battery. An assault and battery charge needs unexcused and harmful or offensive physical contact intentionally performed. In this case, the contact is excused in light of the trespass.

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Libel and Invasion of Privacy The Northwest Herald, a newspaper in Illinois, regularly received e-mail reports from area police departments about criminal arrests. The paper published the information, which is proper because the reports are public records. One day, the Herald received an e-mail stating that Carolene Eubanks had been charged with theft and obstruction of justice. The paper put that information into an issue that was to be published four days later. Several hours after the original e-mail had been received, the police issued another e-mail, explaining that Eubanks had not been charged with anything; the correct name was Barbara Bradshaw. Due to a long weekend, no one at the Herald noticed the e-mail until after the paper had been published. The following day, five days after the e-mails had been received, the paper published a correction. Eubanks sued the Herald for libel and for invasion of privacy. Does Eubanks have a good case for either tort? Why or why not? [ Eubanks v. Northwest Herald Newspapers, 922 N.E.2d 1196 (App.Ct.IU. 2010)]
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Maybe.
Libel occurs when there a wrongful hurt done to an individual's reputation in writing. Here, the newspaper relied on a credible source - the police department - to publish their article. If they had no reason to believe the information was faulty, acted in good faith and exercised reasonable care, then the newspaper may not be guilty of libel. However, if they are found guilty, then the plaintiff does not have to show actual injury to recover damages.
Invasion of privacy requires that the publication of the information in question paints the plaintiff in a false light. In this case, the plaintiff is portrayed as a criminal. Thus, the newspaper could be held to this charge. However, the court may consider the newspaper relied on a credible source and did not seek to put the plaintiff under a false light.

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Defamation Richard is an employee of the Dun Construction Corp. While delivering materials to a construction site, he carelessly backs Dun's truck into a passenger vehicle driven by Green. This is Richard's second accident in six months. When the company owner, Dun, learns of this latest accident, a heated discussion ensues, and Dun fires Richard. Dun is so angry that he immediately writes a letter to the union of which Richard is a member and to all other construction companies in the community, stating that Richard is the "worst driver in the city" and that "anyone who hires him is asking for legal liability." Richard files a suit against Dun, alleging libel on the basis of the statements made in the letters. Discuss the results.
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Defamation Lydia Hagberg went to her bank, California Federal Bank, FSB, to cash a check made out to her by Smith Barney (SB), an investment services firm. Nolene Showalter, a bank employee, suspected that the check was counterfeit. Showalter called SB and was told that the check was not valid. As she phoned the police, Gary Wood, a bank security officer, contacted SB again and was informed that its earlier statement was "erroneous" and that the check was valid. Meanwhile, a police officer arrived, drew Hagberg away from the teller's window, spread her legs, patted her down, and handcuffed her. The officer searched her purse, asked her whether she had any weapons and whether she was driving a stolen vehicle, and arrested her. Hagberg filed a suit in a California state court against the bank and others, alleging slander. Should the absolute privilege for communications made in judicial or other official proceedings apply to statements made when a citizen contacts the police to report suspected criminal activity? Why or why not? [ Hagberg v. California Federal Bank, FSB, 32 Cal.4th 350, 7 Cal.Rptr.3d 803 (2004)]
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A QUESTION OF ETHICS: Wrongful Interference with a Contractual Relationship. White Plains Coat Apron Co. is a New York-based linen rental business. Cintas Corp. is a nationwide business that rents similar products. White Plains had five-year exclusive contracts with some of its customers. As a result of Cintas's soliciting of business, dozens of White Plains' customers breached their contracts and entered into rental agreements with Cintas. White Plains demanded that Cintas stop its solicitation of White Plains' customers. Cintas refused. White Plains filed a suit in a federal district court against Cintas, alleging wrongful interference with existing contracts. Cintas argued that it had no knowledge of any contracts with White Plains and had not induced any breach. The court dismissed the suit, riding that Cintas had a legitimate interest as a competitor to solicit business and make a profit. White Plains appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. [ White Plains Coat Apron Co. v. Cintas Corp., 8 N.Y.3d 422, 867 N.E.2d 381 (2007)] (a) What are the two important policy interests at odds in wrongful interference cases? Which of these interests should be accorded priority? (b) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asked the New York Court of Appeals to answer a question: Is a general interest in soliciting business for profit a sufficient defense to a claim of wrongful interference with a contractual relationship? What do you think? Why?
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Two sisters, Darla and Irene, are partners in an import business located in a small town in Rhode Island. Irene is married to a well-known real estate developer and is campaigning to be the mayor of their town. Darla is in her mid-thirties and has never been married. Both sisters travel to other countries to purchase the goods they sell at their retail store. Irene buys Indonesian goods, and Darla buys goods from Africa. After a tsunami destroys many of the cities in Indonesia to which Irene usually travels, she phones one of her contacts there and asks him to procure some items and ship them to her. He informs her that it will be impossible to buy these items now because the townspeople are being evacuated due to a water shortage. Irene is angry and tells the man that if he cannot purchase the goods, he should just take them without paying for them after the town has been evacuated. Darla overhears her sister's instructions and is outraged. They have a falling-out, and Darla decides that she no longer wishes to be in business with her sister. Using the information presented in the chapter, answer the following questions. If Irene accepts goods shipped from Indonesia that were wrongfully obtained, has she committed an intentional tort against property? Explain. DEBATE THIS : Because of the often anonymous nature of the Internet, defamation has become an outdated legal concept. It's now too difficult to track down the person responsible for the defamatory statement.
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Invasion of Privacy During the spring and summer of 1999, Edward and Geneva Irvine received numerous "hang-up" phone calls, including three calls in the middle of the night. With the help of their local phone company, the Irvines learned that many of the calls were from the telemarketing department of the Akron Beacon Journal in Akron, Ohio. The Beacon's sales force was equipped with an automatic dialing machine. During business hours, the dialer was used to maximize productivity by calling multiple phone numbers at once and connecting a call to a sales representative only after it was answered. After business hours, the Beacon programmed its dialer to dial a list of disconnected numbers to determine whether they had been reconnected. If the dialer detected a ring, it recorded the information and dropped the call. If the automated dialing system crashed, which happened frequently, it redialed the entire list. The Irvines filed a suit in an Ohio state court against the Beacon and others, alleging, among other things, an invasion of privacy. In whose favor should the court rule, and why? [ Irvine v. Akron Beacon Journal, 147 Ohio App.3d 428, 770 N.E.2d 1105 (9 Dist. 2002)]
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CASE PROBLEM WITH SAMPLE ANSWER: Emotional Distress. Between 1996 and 1998, Donna Swanson received several anonymous, handwritten letters that, among other things, accused her husband Alan of infidelity. In 1998, John Grisham, Jr., the author of The Firm and many other best-selling novels, received an anonymous letter that appeared to have been written by the same person. Grisham and the Swansons suspected Katherine Almy, who soon filed a suit in a Virginia state court against them, alleging, among other things, intentional infliction of emotional distress. According to Almy, Grisham had said that he "really, really wanted to make [her] suffer for writing those letters," and the three devised a scheme to falsely accuse her. They gave David Liebman, a handwriting analyst, samples of Almy's handwriting. These included copies of confidential documents from her children's files at St. Anne's-Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Alan Swanson taught and Grisham served on the board of directors. In Almy's view, Grisham influenced Liebman to report that Almy might have written the letters and misrepresented this report as conclusive, which led the police to confront Almy. She claimed that she then suffered severe emotional distress and depression, causing "a complete disintegration of virtually every aspect of her life" and requiring her "to undergo extensive therapy." In response, the defendants asked the court to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. Should the court grant this request? Explain. [ Almy v. Grisham, 273 Va. 68, 639 S.E.2d 182 (2007)]
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Two sisters, Darla and Irene, are partners in an import business located in a small town in Rhode Island. Irene is married to a well-known real estate developer and is campaigning to be the mayor of their town. Darla is in her mid-thirties and has never been married. Both sisters travel to other countries to purchase the goods they sell at their retail store. Irene buys Indonesian goods, and Darla buys goods from Africa. After a tsunami destroys many of the cities in Indonesia to which Irene usually travels, she phones one of her contacts there and asks him to procure some items and ship them to her. He informs her that it will be impossible to buy these items now because the townspeople are being evacuated due to a water shortage. Irene is angry and tells the man that if he cannot purchase the goods, he should just take them without paying for them after the town has been evacuated. Darla overhears her sister's instructions and is outraged. They have a falling-out, and Darla decides that she no longer wishes to be in business with her sister. Using the information presented in the chapter, answer the following questions. Now suppose that Irene wins the election and becomes the city's mayor. Darla then writes a letter to the editor of the local newspaper disclosing Irene's misconduct. If Irene accuses Darla of committing libel, what defenses could Darla assert? DEBATE THIS : Because of the often anonymous nature of the Internet, defamation has become an outdated legal concept. It's now too difficult to track down the person responsible for the defamatory statement.
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Business Torts Medtronic, Inc., is a diversified medical technology company that develops therapies to treat a variety of medical conditions. The market is highly competitive, and Medtronic competes nationally and internationally with St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc. James Hughes worked for Medtronic as a district sales manager in Birmingham, Alabama. Hughes's employment contract prohibited him from working on competitors' products for one year after leaving Medtronic. After thirteen years with Medtronic, Hughes sought and accepted employment as a sales director for St. Jude in Orlando, Florida. In their negotiations, representatives of St. Jude told Hughes that they believed his employment contract with Medtronic was unenforceable. Medtronic fi led a lawsuit in a Minnesota state court against St. Jude, alleging wrongful interference. Which type of wrongful interference tort was most likely the basis for this lawsuit? What are its elements and defenses? Should the defendant be held liable? Why or why not? [Medtronic, Inc. v. Hughes, __ N.W.2d __ (Minn.App. 2011)]
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Intentional Torts against Property Gary Kremen registered the domain name "sex.com" with Network Solutions, Inc., to the name of Kremen's business, Online Classifieds. Later, Stephen Cohen sent Network Solutions a letter that he claimed to have received from Online Classifieds. It stated that "we have no objections to your use of the domain name sex.com and this letter shall serve as our authorization to the Internet registrar to transfer sex.com to your corporation." Without contacting Kremen, Network Solutions transferred the name to Cohen, who subsequently turned sex.com into a lucrative business. Kremen filed a suit in a federal district court against Cohen and others, seeking the name and Cohen's profits. The court ordered Cohen to return the name to Kremen and pay $65 million in damages. Cohen ignored the order and disappeared. Against what other parties might Kremen attempt to obtain relief? Under which theory of intentional torts against property might Kremen be able to file an action? What is the likely result, and why? [ Kremen v. Cohen, 337 F.3d 1024 (9th Cir. 2003)]
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Two sisters, Darla and Irene, are partners in an import business located in a small town in Rhode Island. Irene is married to a well-known real estate developer and is campaigning to be the mayor of their town. Darla is in her mid-thirties and has never been married. Both sisters travel to other countries to purchase the goods they sell at their retail store. Irene buys Indonesian goods, and Darla buys goods from Africa. After a tsunami destroys many of the cities in Indonesia to which Irene usually travels, she phones one of her contacts there and asks him to procure some items and ship them to her. He informs her that it will be impossible to buy these items now because the townspeople are being evacuated due to a water shortage. Irene is angry and tells the man that if he cannot purchase the goods, he should just take them without paying for them after the town has been evacuated. Darla overhears her sister's instructions and is outraged. They have a falling-out, and Darla decides that she no longer wishes to be in business with her sister. Using the information presented in the chapter, answer the following questions. Suppose that Darla tells several of her friends about Irene's instructing the man to take goods without paying for them after the tsunami disaster. If Irene fi les a tort action against Darla alleging slander, will her suit be successful? Why or why not? DEBATE THIS : Because of the often anonymous nature of the Internet, defamation has become an outdated legal concept. It's now too difficult to track down the person responsible for the defamatory statement.
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QUESTION WITH SAMPLE ANSWER: Wrongful Interference. Lothar owns a bakery. He has been trying to obtain a long-term contract with the owner of Martha's Tea Salons for some time. Lothar starts a local advertising campaign on radio and television and in the newspaper. This advertising campaign is so persuasive that Martha decides to break the contract she has had with Harley's Bakery so that she can patronize Lothar's bakery. Is Lothar liable to Harley's Bakery for the tort of wrongful interference with a contractual relationship? Is Martha liable for this tort?
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