Business Law, business and finance homework help


Members of the Westboro Baptist Church claim that the First
Amendment protects them from intentional infliction of emotional distress
lawsuits since they are expressing a political opinion by picketing at soldier
funerals. The pickets take place on public property and in compliance with
local picketing laws. If the plaintiffs win the case, the church is unlikely to
have the money to satisfy the judgment and may seek bankruptcy.

Question 1:  Do you believe that this conduct is extreme
and outrageous enough to constitute a tort? Why or why not?

In January 2001 a New York man attended a family birthday
party at a Benihana restaurant, where chefs, while cooking at the table,
routinely throw pieces of food for diners to catch with their mouths. The man
wrenched his neck while ducking a piece of flying shrimp, requiring treatment
by several doctors. By that summer, doctors determined surgery was necessary to
treat numbness in his arm. Five months after surgery, he checked into the
hospital with a high fever and died. The family sued Benihana for $10 million
in damages, claiming that the fever was the result of surgery, which in turn
was the result of the chef’s actions in throwing food at diners.

Question 2:  Do you believe that Benihana should be liable
for the man’s death? Why or why not?

In a November 1983 issue of Hustler magazine, a parody of an
advertisement portrayed television evangelist Jerry Falwell as a drunken,
incestuous hypocrite. The parody contained a disclaimer, “ad parody—not to be
taken seriously.” Falwell sued for libel and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. In Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988),
the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, although the statements were false, they
were not libelous because Falwell was a public figure and there was no proof of
actual malice.

Question 3:  Should public figures be held to a different
standard than private citizens when deciding whether intentional infliction of
emotional distress, libel or other similar torts have been committed?

Medical malpractice claims tens of thousands of lives per
year, leaving victims and their families little recourse except through the
tort system. Most doctors purchase medical malpractice insurance policies to
pay a claim in case they are sued, but in some cases these premiums can be
exorbitantly high. The fear of medical malpractice suits also drives some
doctors to practice “defensive medicine,” which further increases the price of
health care for everyone.

Question 4:  How do you think the legal system can best
balance the competing interests between business and the consumer with respect
to negligence standards?

While helping a neighbor on his farm, Charles Tiede raised an
auger that hit a high voltage electric power line, killing himself and two
other workers. Tiede’s wife brought a suit against the owner of the farm and
the electric company. In Tiede v. Loup Power District, 411 N.W.2d 312 (Neb.
1987), the court ruled that, because Tiede had been warned about the dangers of
the electrical wire and had even warned others about it, Tiede’s contributory
negligence precluded his wife from collecting any damages for his death.

Question 5:  Should contributory negligence be a valid
defense from a claim in tort litigation?

6.  Suppose Boxes Inc. is a
business and hires Ann to drive its delivery truck. This is an
employer/employee relationship because Boxes Inc. has the right to control the
details of how Ann does her job. If Ann drives negligently and injures
Pedestrian, Pedestrian can sue Boxes Inc. for vicarious liability. Suppose
instead that when Ann drove negligently, Ann was 30 miles from where she was
supposed to be, having gone there to engage in gambling. Here, a court might
conclude that Boxes Inc. is not vicariously liable because Ann was on a
“frolic.” On the other hand, if Ann had deviated from the appointed route in
only a minor way, perhaps to get lunch, a court might find Boxes Inc.
vicariously liable. In that case, Ann may not have been on a “frolic” (which
cuts off vicarious liability), but merely on a “detour” (which does not). The
dividing line between frolic and detour is often hazy.

Question 6:  Lemonade Inc.’s employee Bill must pick up
lemons each day from the student center using a cart.  He usually likes to have a quick cigarette
while he does so and walks around campus if it’s a nice day.  Unfortunately while walking around campus
with the cart, he accidentally ran over a student’s foot injuring her.  Explain why the student could claim Lemonade
Inc. is liable for any damages?  Also
explain how Lemonade Inc. could defend itself as not responsible for Bill’s

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