I gave two law school final essay exams in December 2008, one in Remedies and one in Civil Procedure. Much thanks to you all for the help you unknowingly gave me in drafting the exams.
I wrote the Remedies problem a day or two after the Dean informed me I would not be getting my sabbatical next year. Here's the set up for the problem:Prudence winds up being injured when the upper bunk in her cell collapses on her. Meanwhile her 10-year-old bicycle, originally $4000 and made by a now deceased craftsman, disappears. Students are to discuss damages, injunctions, restitution, etc.Prudence quit her job as a lawyer, loaded her bicycle with camping gear and everything she needed for a year on the road, and set out to cycle across the United States and write a book. After several weeks of cycling and camping, she was looking pretty grubby but having a wonderful time. As she was pedaling through an upscale residential area of Los Diablos County in the state of Westmoreland, she was stopped by Deputy Dean of the Los Diablos Sheriff’s Department (“LDSD”), who said residents had complained of a vagrant in their neighborhood. Prudence explained that she was not a vagrant. The deputy told her she should not be riding her bicycle in the street and, as there were no sidewalks in this part of the county, she was required to walk her bike out of the area and be on her way. Prudence protested that she had consulted the Westmoreland Vehicle Code before entering the state, and correctly informed the deputy that not only was cycling in the street permitted, it was against the law to prohibit bicycles on any public street in the state other than limited access highways. Deputy Dean thereupon took Prudence into custody and confiscated her bicycle and gear.
Having very little imagination I used the same plaintiff for the Civil Procedure problem. Darren gets served with a nearly incomprehensible complaint by Prudence.:The questions in this exam concerned steps taken in the lawsuit. Ultimately,Darren’s story. Darren’s auto insurance company assigned Arthur the Attorney to represent Darren in this action. Darren told Arthur that he had, in fact, been involved in a collision at the corner of Broad and High in Los Diablos on April 1, 2007. The intersection has stop signs in all directions and is not very busy. Darren said he was driving on High Street going north. He said he came to a complete stop, thought the intersection was clear, and carefully proceeded into the intersection where he struck someone on a bicycle going west on Broad Street. He said he did not see the cyclist until it was too late to avoid her, and guessed maybe she ran the stop sign or something. Police and paramedics came to the scene and the cyclist was taken to the hospital. No traffic citations were issued.
Carol’s Report. Darren’s insurance company gave Arthur a report made by Carol the Claims Adjuster who investigated the accident for the insurance company six months after the accident. The report includes a memo of a conversation between Carol and Prudence which Prudence does not remember having, a statement from Witness 1 who said neither Prudence nor Darren had stopped at the stop signs before the accident, and a statement from Witness 2 who did not see Prudence before the accident, and said that Darren had stopped before proceeding but had been talking on his hand-held mobile phone when the accident occurred.After deliberating, the jury returned a verdict for Prudence in the amount of $100,000, about equal to Prudence’s medical expenses and lost wages. When Arthur interviewed them after the jury was discharged, the jurors told him that they doubted that either party had stopped because nobody ever does. However, they ruled in favor of Prudence because several of the jurors, who were regular bicycle commuters, convinced the rest of the jury that they needed to send a message to all drivers to be more careful and look out for bicycles.