Didn’t Read For Class Reboot. Brought to You by J.A.G.

Over a year ago, I mentioned that I may start briefing SCOTUS cases. Specifically, I said I would: (1) Find SCOTUS cases I was interested in, (2) Brief the cases cited in the Amicus Briefs, (3) Brief the Amicus themselves; and (4) Provide an opinion about the case. This will start on May 24th. Prepare yourselves loyal followers (who don’t exist).

Looking for Ideas

Howdy all:

I’m looking for ideas to make this a little more useful. Awhile back, I mentioned maybe just giving me your syllabus and I’d just brief the additional cases. Another Idea I’m toying with is to find the upcoming SCOTUS cases that interest me (Whole Women’s Health had oral argument yesterday), and brief all the cases cited by the actually parties and the Amici Briefs. Do either of these ideas sound good? let me know!

An Idea I’d Like To Play With

Hello everybody!

I’ve been toying with an idea lately. If you are in law school and have specific cases you’d like briefed for purpose of coursework, please e-mail me your syllabus (or just a list of case cites), and I’ll see if I can’t get them all done before your semester is over! Obviously, it may not work… so I wouldn’t put all your eggs in that basket, but why the heck not try!

Time, Inc. v. Firestone (1976) – 424 U.S. 448,

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Case Name:

Time, Inc. v. Firestone

Date:

1976

Jurisdiction:

Supreme Court of the United States

Rule:

NEW YORK RULE: Defamation against a public figure cannot be maintained absent a showing of actual malice.

PUBLIC FIGURE: Where an individual assumes a  role of especial prominence in the affairs of society, or voluntarily thrusts  themselves to the forefront of a particular public controversy in order to influence the resolution of the issues involved in it

Brief Analysis:

Respondent was not a ‘‘public figure’’ for the purpose of determining the constitutional protection afforded petitioner’s report of the factual and legal basis for her divorce. Therefore, the Gertz analysis applies, and Defendant cannot claim a defense on the basis of a lack of actual malice.

NOTE: The Court applies  Crane requirements once it decides that Firestone is not a public figure, so had the defamation been true as to the entire scope of what was said – they would escape liability. Alternatively, if the facts tended to prove the entirety of the allegation, Defendant would only be partially liable.

Topic Area:

Defamation

 

Facts:

Plaintiff, the wife of an ultra-wealthy individual filed for divorce from her husband, with both of them alleging serious adulterous activity. The Court filed a very strongly worded opinion. This information was then passed to Defendant – based on four independent sources, Defendant published: “DIVORCED. By Russell A. Firestone, Jr., 41, heir to the tire fortune:

Mary Alice Sullivan Firestone, 32, his third wife; a onetime Palm Beach schoolteacher; on grounds of extreme cruelty and adultery; after six years of marriage, one son; in West Palm Beach, Fla. The 17– month intermittent trial produced enough testimony of extramarital adventures on both sides, said the judge, ‘to make Dr. Freud’s hair curl.’  ’’ Within a few weeks of the publication of this article respondent demanded in writing a retraction from petitioner, alleging that a portion of the article was ‘‘false, malicious and defamatory.’’ Petitioner declined to issue the requested retraction.

P Argument:

 

D Argument:

 

Rule:

NEW YORK RULE: Defamation against a public figure cannot be maintained absent a showing of actual malice.

PUBLIC FIGURE: Where an individual assumes a  role of especial prominence in the affairs of society, or voluntarily thrusts  themselves to the forefront of a particular public controversy in order to influence the resolution of the issues involved in it

Analysis:

Dissolution of a marriage through judicial proceedings is not the sort of ‘‘public controversy’’ referred to in Gertz, even though the marital difficulties of extremely wealthy individuals may be of interest to some portion of the reading public. Nor did respondent freely choose to publicize issues as to the propriety of her married life. She was compelled to go to court by the State in order to obtain legal release from the bonds of matrimony. We have said that in such an instance resort to the judicial process is no more voluntary in a realistic sense than that of the defendant called upon to defend his interests in court. Her actions, both in instituting the  litigation and in its conduct, were quite different from those of General Walker in

Curtis Publishing Co She assumed no ‘‘special prominence in the resolution of public questions. Respondent was not a ‘‘public figure’’ for the purpose of determining the constitutional protection afforded petitioner’s report of the factual and legal basis for her divorce. Therefore, the Gertz analysis applies, and Defendant cannot claim a defense on the basis of a lack of actual malice.

NOTE: The Court applies  Crane requirements once it decides that Firestone is not a public figure, so had the defamation been true as to the entire scope of what was said – they would escape liability. Alternatively, if the facts tended to prove the entirety of the allegation, Defendant would only be partially liable.

Concurrence:

N/A

Dissent:

N/A

Conclusion:

Respondent was not a ‘‘public figure’’ for the purpose of determining the constitutional protection afforded petitioner’s report of the factual and legal basis for her divorce. Therefore, the Gertz analysis applies, and Defendant cannot claim a defense on the basis of a lack of actual malice.

NOTE: The Court applies  Crane requirements once it decides that Firestone is not a public figure, so had the defamation been true as to the entire scope of what was said – they would escape liability. Alternatively, if the facts tended to prove the entirety of the allegation, Defendant would only be partially liable.

Bennett v. Stanley (2001) – 748 N.E.2d 41.

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Case Name: Bennett v. Stanley
Date: 2001
Jurisdiction: Supreme Court of Ohio
Rule: The possessor owes a trespasser no duty of care; the possessor owes a licensee the duty to make safe dangers of which the possessor is aware; and the possessor owes invitees the duty to exercise reasonable care to protect them against both known dangers and those that would be revealed by inspection.
Brief Analysis: Children of tender years, and youthful persons generally, are entitled to a degree of care proportioned to their inability to foresee and avoid the perils that they may encounter. The requirement of foreseeability is built into the doctrine. The landowner must know or have reason to know that children are likely to trespass upon the part of the property that contains the dangerous condition. Defendant knew that children would come to his pool, and knew of the risks that would go with it. Further, Plaintiff’s wife, if a rescuer, was entitled to a licensee status and the protection that goes with it.
Topic Area: Specialty Duties – Based on Status

 

Facts: At the time of their purchase, the Defendant’s property included a swimming pool that had gone unused for three years. At that time, the pool was enclosed with fencing and a brick wall. After moving in, the Defendants drained the pool once but thereafter they allowed rainwater to accumulate in the pool to a depth of over six feet. They removed a tarp that had been on the pool and also removed the fencing that had been around two sides of the pool. The pool became pond-like: it contained tadpoles and frogs, and Mr. Stanley had seen a snake swimming on the surface. The pool contained no ladders, and its sides were slimy with algae. On the  afternoon of March 20, 1997, Plaintiff found his two young daughters crying. The three-year-old told Plaintiff that his wife and son, were ‘‘drowning in the water.’’ Plaintiff ran next door to his neighbors’ house to find his wife and son unconscious in the swimming pool. Both died.
P Argument: Plaintiff argues that he was an Invitee, and therefore, the fact that Defendant knew, or should have known, of the unsafe condition, Defendant breached their duty of care to Plaintiff.
D Argument: Plaintiff was a licensee, Defendant was unaware of the stick on the porch, and therefore, has no duty to make it safe.
Rule:        The duty owed to a plaintiff in a premise liability action depends upon the status of the plaintiff at the time of his injury. There are three broad categories of plaintiffs recognized in premise liability cases: (1) trespassers; (2) licensees; and (3) invitees.

Generally, the possessor owes a trespasser no duty of care; the possessor owes a licensee the duty to make safe dangers of which the possessor is aware; and the possessor owes invitees the duty to exercise reasonable care to protect them against both known dangers and those that would be revealed by inspection.

Children of tender years, and youthful persons generally, are entitled to a degree of care proportioned to their inability to foresee and avoid the perils that they may encounter.

Restatement of the Law 2d, Torts (1965), Section 339: ‘‘A possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm to children trespassing thereon caused by an artificial condition upon land if:

(a) the place where the condition exists is one upon which the possessor knows or has reason to know that children are likely to trespass, and

(b) The condition is one of which the possessor knows or has reason to know and which he realizes or should realize will involve an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to such children, and

(c) The children because of their youth do not discover the condition or realize the risk involved in intermeddling with it or in coming within the area made dangerous by it, and

(d) The utility to the possessor of maintaining the condition and the burden of eliminating the danger are slight as compared with the risk to children involved, and

(e) The possessor fails to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger or otherwise to protect the children.’’

Analysis: The requirement of foreseeability is built into the doctrine. The landowner must know or have reason to know that children are likely to trespass upon the part of the property that contains the dangerous condition. See Section 339(a). Moreover, the landowner’s duty ‘‘does not extend to those conditions the existence of which is obvious even to children and the risk of which should be fully realized by them. If the Court, on remand, finds that Plaintiff’s wife was a rescuer, then she is entitled the same protections as a licensee.
Concurrence: N/A
Dissent: N/A
Conclusion: The Court adopts the attractive nuisance doctrine set forth in Restatement of the

Law 2d, Torts (1965), Section 339 dictating the duty Property owners owe  children trespassers. Additionally,  an adult who attempts to rescue a child from an attractive nuisance assumes the status of the child, and is owed a duty of ordinary care by the property owner