Torts assignment


Evening Torts Class Assignment No. 1

At 1:00 a.m. on Black Friday, David Do Right and his wife, Cathy, drove to a local Walmart to begin their holiday shopping. The couple planned to purchase several CDs and DVDs as “stocking stuffers” for their two young children. When they arrived at the store, it was a madhouse. For that reason (and because it was freezing outside), Cathy decided to remain in the couple’s parked car, while David went in to do the shopping. From where the car was parked, Cathy had a clear view of the store’s exit door, although it was 100 yards away.

Remarkably, David was able to find all of the items he was shopping for (a total of 10 CDs and DVDs) and went directly to a check-out counter, where he was greeted by Walmart cashier, I.M. Distracted, a trainee, who the store recently had hired to help with the holiday rush. I.M. managed to get it “mostly right,” but neglected to run the final CD over the magnetic plate that disabled the security device on purchased items. David paid his bill in full and headed for the exit, which was crowded with arriving and departing customers.

As David and several other customers passed through the security checkpoint, an alarm sounded. Having no reason to believe it applied to him (after all he thought he had paid for all the items he purchased) and eager to get out of the cold and back to the car, David began to jog from the store with his bag in hand. As he did, two Walmart employees and a private security officer, who the store had hired, began chasing after David, believing he was shoplifting. David, thinking he was being targeted by thugs intent on stealing his merchandise, ran faster.

Seconds later, David stepped in a large pothole, breaking his leg and causing him to fall to the ground. As he did, the security officer jumped on David’s back and pinned him to the ground, while the two Walmart employees pummeled him almost into unconsciousness. Cathy, who had watched all of this unfold before her eyes, got out of the car to run to her husband’s aid, but was overcome with emotion and fainted. The police and paramedics arrived a few minutes later and, after rushing David and Cathy to a nearby hospital, unraveled the terrible “misunderstanding.”

Two weeks later, David and Cathy arrive at the law office where you are working and the attorney assigns you to conduct the intake interview. The Do Rights want short answers to the following questions:

1. Do David and/or Cathy have a claim or claims against Walmart and, if so, what is the nature of the claim(s) and what are the issues that are likely to arise;

2. Do David and/or Cathy have a claim or claims against the private security officer and his employer and, if so, what is the nature of the claim(s) and what are the issues that are likely to arise;

3. Do David and/or Cathy have a claim against the owner of the strip shopping center where the Walmart store is located and, if so, what is the nature of the claim(s) and what are the issues that are likely to arise; and

4. If the answers to Questions 1, 2 or 3 are “yes,” what kinds of damages are David and/or Cathy entitled to recover?

One final note: Walmart has a corporate policy that strictly prohibits employees from: (1) touching customers; and (2) following or approaching customers after they have left the store.

The assignment must be submitted through the Assignments section of AND a printed hard copy turned in to me at the beginning of Class No. 3. For your online submission, load your answers directly in the box provided in the Assignments section AND submit them as a Word attachment in case there is a problem with either method. The due date is Saturday, October 17 at 10 am. You should submit the assignment online prior to class and turn in the printed hard copy at the beginning of class.


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