Summer Career Connections at SAVY 2018: Session 4, Day 4 – Think Like a Lawyer (Rising 7th)
One day left of Think Like a Lawyer! Our class has really come a long way in understanding and applying legal rules since the beginning of the week. Today we covered Torts, which can be summarized as noncriminal, wrongful conduct. Unlike Contracts—the law governing people entering into relationships voluntarily—Torts is the law governing how strangers must interact with each other in society.
We began with some select intentional torts. First, we spent time exploring the difference between assault and battery. Two students even let me assault and batter them! Assault and battery are almost the same thing, except for one slight, but very important, thing. Can your student explain the difference between an assault and a battery to you?
We also covered some defenses to Tort claims. We learned about consent through discussing a case about an immigrant on Ellis Island who sued a doctor giving her a vaccine when she entered the country. The doctor won the case on the defense that the immigrant woman implicitly consented to the vaccination when she saw him administer the shot to others, and she stuck her arm out to him when he came to her. The other defense we covered was justification, which recognizes that sometimes people have to destroy property in order to protect or save something else more valuable. When this is the case, liability for a defendant may be limited.
With any legal principle or rule also comes a limit on that principle or rule. The limit on the right to protect ones property was the central focus of the case, Katko v. Briney. In that case, an elderly couple grew tired of having a shed they owned eight miles from their house broken into; so, they set a booby trap by setting up a trip wire connected to a shot gun. When the burglar, Katko, opened the door, the trap went off, the gun fired and he ended up losing his legs. Mr. Katko took the Briney’s to court for battery and won! The court affirmed the lower court’s findings that a party “may use reasonable force in the protection of his property, but such right is subject to qualification that one may not use such means of force as will take human life or inflict great bodily injury.” Does your student agree with the outcome of the case, or do they think the Briney’s should be allowed to booby trap their house to prevent robberies?
Our big event for today was holding a hearing for the case, Parr Family v. Everyone Else, where we applied the rules and defenses we learned from the morning tort lecture to the film, The Incredibles. Students really impressed me with the quality of their arguments for the clients. There were times that I, as judge, had made up by mind on a case, but students would present viable arguments that made me rethink my position. We ran out of time at the end of class, but we’ll revisit the hearing for a bit first thing in the morning.
Tomorrow, after wrapping up our hearing, students take the steering wheel for class. Students have individual, specific topics falling under Contracts, Property and Torts. Some will be discussing how to get out of contracts through arguing duress, misrepresentation or unconscionability. One group will be telling us about the different types of intellectual property, while another will cover other intentional and nonintentional torts. I’m really looking forward to seeing the class take ownership of their subject, read challenging cases independently, and use a keen eye to examine the logic of the case. Thank you all so much for this week and your engagement in class. Have a great evening, and tomorrow, I look forward to learning something from YOU.
Hearing on The Incredibles