Torts Midterm

On October 22, 2009, in Law School, by Jeremy C Wilson

I took my torts midterm yesterday early afternoon. For those who don’t know what torts is I’ll briefly explain. Tort law covers the civil (i.e. not criminal) wrongdoings that happen around you, except those happen to be under contractual agreement. It includes all the things you’ve heard of on TV shows like Law And Order … battery, assault, negligence, due care, and more. The classic example of tort law that most professors give at the beginning of class is a “punch in the face,” hence the picture above. And tort law answers questions like is the act a violation, who is at fault, and what is the penalty?

What business students often enjoy about torts is torts’ interplay with economics. In the class we talk a lot about damage calculations, economic efficiency, risk calculations, product liability, and insurance. Many of the JD-MBAs here especially like the “Learned Hand Formula.” This formula is a widely-accepted mathematical model used to test the economic efficiency of a person’s risky actions, and it’s used to determine if someone acted negligently or not. It’s pretty interesting to do the calculation and see how stacks up against what actually happened in the case.

The midterm itself was pretty fun. We had 55 minutes to complete the exam, so it was a mad dash the entire way. The midterm only consisted of one storyline and there three short questions. On any law school exam, we basically have to read the storyline (called a fact pattern), identify the issues, discuss the relevant laws (i.e. tort laws in this case), and then argue for both sides of the case in terms of liability. Midterms usually have dozens of issues, and the more you can spot and discuss articulately, the better off you are. I asked around after the exam, and it sounded like most people typed between 2.5 and 3 pages single-spaced. I ended writing closer to five pages. I am confident that I identified most of the issues. Hopefully the rest of my analysis was up to par.

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