Section I – Sam and Irene
Sam and his sister Irene, are partners in an important business located in a small town in Rhode Island. Irene is married to a well-known real estate developer and is campaigning to be the mayor of their town. Sam is in his mid-thirties and has never been married. Both siblings travel to other countries to purchase the goods they sell at their retail store. Irene buys Indonesian goods, and Sam buys goods from Africa. After a tsunami destroys many of the cities in Indonesia to which Irene usually travels, she phones one of her contacts there and asks him to procure some items and ship them to her. He informs her that it will be impossible to buy these items now because the townspeople are being evacuated due to a water shortage. Irene is angry and tells the man that if he cannot purchase the goods, he should just take them without paying for them after the town has been evacuated. Sam overhears his sister’s instructions and is outraged.
They have a falling-out, and Sam decides that he no longer wishes to be in business with his sister.
Suppose that Sam tells several of his friends about Irene instructing the man to take goods without paying for them after the tsunami disaster. If Irene files a tort action against Sam alleging slander, will her suit be successful? Why or why not?
Now suppose that Irene wins the election and becomes the city’s mayor. Several months later Irene receives a shipment of goods from the man to whom she spoke in Indonesia. Sam asks his sister how she was able to get the goods and she replied, “I’ve got my ways.” Both Sam and his sister believe the goods were obtained fraudulently.
Sam then writes a letter to the editor of the local newspaper disclosing Irene’s misconduct. If Irene accuses Sam of committing libel, what defenses could Sam assert? Discuss fully.
Suppose now that Irene, who is angry with her brother for disclosing her business improprieties, writes a letter to the editor falsely accusing Sam of having sexual relations with her neighbor’s thirteen-year-old daughter. For what intentional tort or torts could Sam sue Irene in this situation? Discuss fully.
Section II – Sam and Marvin
Sam wanted to get away from it all and learned that “One Step, Two Step” an extremely popular band was coming to town. One Step, Two Step is old school in that patrons must buy tickets in person at one location in each venue. Sam went to the local sports complex and waited in line overnight to ensure he got good seats. He didn’t want to be lonely so he took his pet ferret (a small animal, an exotic pet) with him.
The ticket office opened at 7:00 but by 10:00 the line had barely moved. As he was about 10 people away from being serviced, an irate customer, Marvin, came running through the line screaming that his girlfriend was up ahead and he had to tell her what to buy. Marvin accidentally hit Sam forcefully, breaking Sam’s arm.
In aIDition, Sam had his pet ferret in his coat pocket. The impact caused the ferret to die. Marvin said that the slowness of the line and the thought of getting the wrong seats caused him to “lose it.”
Sam has sued Marvin for his injuries, the loss of his ferret, and emotional distress related to these. Discuss Sam’s claims, any defenses and their likely resolution.
Loss of ferret
Section III – Sam and Region West
After his injury in the concert ticket line Sam went to Northeast Southwest Central Hospital and was treated for his broken arm. At the same time, he received a complete physical where he was diagnosed and treated for genital herpes. A nurse, Edith Amy, who was a hospital employee, told her friends and some of Sam’s friends about Sam’s condition. This was a violation of the hospital’s employee handbook and HIPBATH (federal privacy law relating to patient’s personal information), which required employees to maintain the confidentiality of patients’ records.
Sam filed suit in a federal district court against the hospital, among others, alleging that the hospital should be held liable for its employee’s actions on the basis of respondent Superior. On what basis other than a HIPBATH action might the court hold that the hospital was not liable for Edith Amy’s acts? Discuss fully.