In this assignment, you’ll need to decide whether Paula Plaintiff has any legal claims arising from a series of unfortunate events. After reading the scenario, answer the questions that follow, making sure to fully explain the basis of your decision.
Paula Plaintiff is shopping at her favorite store, Cash Mart. She is looking for a new laptop, but she can’t find one she likes. Then, realizing that she is going to be late for an appointment, she attempts to leave the store, walking very fast. However, before she can leave, she is stopped by a security guard who accuses her of shoplifting. Paula, who has taken nothing, denies any wrong doing. The officer insists and takes Paula to a small room in the back of the store. The guard tells Paula that if she attempts to leave the room she will be arrested and sent to jail. At this point, the guard leaves the room. Paula is scared and waits in the room for over an hour until the manager comes in and apologizes and tells Paula that she is free to go.
About this same time, Geoffrey Golfer is hitting golf balls in his backyard. Geoffrey decides to break out his new driver and hits a golf ball out of his backyard into the Cash Mart parking lot. The golf ball hits Paula Plaintiff on the head and knocks her unconscious just as she is leaving the store.
In a 6–10 paragraph paper, answer the following questions:
What types of legal claims could Paula make against Cash Mart and Geoffrey? Consider the following:
What are the possible tort claims that Paula can make against Cash Mart? Discuss the elements of the claim and how those elements relate to the facts in the scenario.
Was Geoffrey negligent when he hit the golf ball that injured Paula? Discuss the elements of negligence and use facts from the scenario to support your decision.
If Paula files a negligence claim against Geoffrey will she file in civil court or criminal court? Explain the difference between civil court and criminal court.
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The specific course learning outcome associated with this assignment is:
Determine if a plaintiff can make legal claims based on the events in a given scenario.
Paula Plaintiff’s Really Bad Week, Part 1
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Paula Plaintiff’s Really Bad Week, Part 1
Paula can claim for Intentional tort regarding false imprisonment against Cash Mart. It clear in the scenario that Cash Mart is guilty of the intentional tort of false improvement which can be analyzed from the law perspective of the elements of the tort of false imprisonment. The first element of the false imprisonment tort is the intent. The guard in the Cash Mart had an intention in the actions of locking Paula in the room behind the store. The second important element of this tort is the actual confinement of the plaintiff within an area not accepted by the plaintiff.
It is clear from the scenario that Paula had no intention of staying locked up within the room and she wanted out of there immediately. The third element is the causal link which must explain the reason for confinement. In the scenario, the guard did not have evidence that authorized him to confine Paula in that room. Paula did not understand why she was being imprisoned within the room. From this analysis, Paula has a tort claim for the intentional tort of false imprisonment.
Moreover, Paula can also claim the occupier’s liability tort against Cash Mart. The law states that the occupier of the premises owes the common duty of care such that in all situations the visitor is reasonably safe when using the premises where the visitor is invited or permitted by the occupier. In the scenario, Paula was a customer of Cash Mart and hence permitted entry to the premises. Therefore, Cash Mart owe Paula the duty of care while still in the parking lot of the Cash Mart premises. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the occupier, Cash Mart, to secure all customer on the premises even in the parking lot. Paula has a possible tort claim for the occupier’s liability against Cash Mart.
The negligence of Geoffrey can be understood by closely examining the elements of negligence as a tort. There are four elements for the tort of negligence which are the legal duty of care, the breach of the duty, the proximate cause, and the actual harm. Negligence is judged by the identification of three key features. First, the action of the defendant must be not intentional. Secondly, the action is not planned to happen and third, the action must create some type of injury.
In our scenario, Geoffrey owes the duty of reasonable care to Paula. He should have considered that the golf ball can hurt someone in the parking lot of Cash Mart. Geoffrey failed to act reasonably and breached his duty of care by hitting the golf ball towards the parking lot. The golf ball unintentionally hits Paula by the head leaving her unconscious. Furthermore, the harm is caused by the defendant failed to act reasonably and prudently. The plaintiff must suffer actual harm which is determined by the court to be compensable by the defendant or the court.
The outcome of the case depends on the legal duty of the defendant had towards the plaintiff. The defendant must be having required the plaintiff to exercise act with a standard of care towards the plaintiff. In our scenario, Geoffrey did not consider that the golf ball could hit a person or even cause damages to property. Geoffrey owed Paula a standard legal duty of care. This element of negligence is determined by the judge through the consideration of whether the common reasonable person can find a duty of care under such a circumstance. The plaintiff must prove the defendant had the duty of care and breached it by committing the negligent action. The claims must also focus on the cause in fact seeks to relate the damages to the negligent action.
In the scenario, the golf hitting Paula on the head to make her unconscious is enough to prove cause in fact. Proximate cause is an element of the tort which explains that the defendant is responsible for damages caused and would have avoided by the defendant from exercising the standard legal care of duty in the actions. In the scenario, Geoffrey could have prevented the damages for not hitting the golf ball towards the parking lot of Cash Mart. A parking lot is a place for vehicles and people move around, therefore, it is unreasonable to hitting the golf ball towards the parking lot it can injure people and damage vehicles which are people’s property.
The criminal court works as the government files claims against a wrongdoer who committed a crime. The accused person becomes the defendant. The government is given the task to prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. When the defendant is found guilty, the court punishes him or her to go to jail or prison. The prosecutor is the lawyer for the government and is tasked with proving the defendant is guilty of the charges claimed in court.
In civil courts, a person sues another person by filing a case against another person when a dispute between them. The business has an artificial legal identity and therefore, can sue or be sued in a civil court. When one of the parties loses the case, they must pay the other parties for damages caused in terms of money or return of property. The punishment is not serving a jail term on losing the case. Commonly the kinds of cases handled by the civil court involve money and debts, property, housing, and injury and marriage and children. In civil court, the plaintiff must prove the case through the preponderance of the evidence which means the strongest evidence among the parties wins the case.
In the scenario, Paula must file the claims against Cash Mart and Geoffrey in a civil court. In the court, the cases will be on Paula against Cash Mart and Paula against Geoffrey. Cash Mart is given an artificial identity as an independent person. The loss of the case will require the losing party to compensate for the other party in terms of money or our case caters to the health care bills resulting from the case. In the scenario, Paula has suffered an injury from getting hit by the golf ball. In conclusion, Paula should file her tort claims in a civil law court. The civil court is a suitable court to deal with the disputes that arise between Paula and the Cash Mart Business entity and Paula and Geoffrey. It is also clear that Paula has two claims against Cash Mart; Intentional tort of false imprisonment and the occupier’s liability while has one claim on negligence against Geoffrey.
Field, I. D. (2018). Contributory Negligence and the Rule of Avoidable Losses. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 38(3), 475-499.
Submitter, R. P. S., Law, N. Y. U., & Geistfeld, M. (2019). Folk Tort Law. Handbook of Private Law Theories (Hanoch Dagan & Benjamin Zipursky eds., Edward Elgar Press 2020, Forthcoming), 19-37.