I didn’t really read this weekend! Uh oh

So this should be an interesting week. Despite having an extra day off for MLK day yesterday, I failed to really do any of the required reading for my classes this week. I am fairly non-stop when I get to work, in fact half of the time I am taking calls related to work before even getting there. Having 2 kids and the associated family duties sure makes time management difficult. Normally I would use the train ride into Baltimore from Perryville for my reading time, but I stayed home to help get the kids ready, and didn’t make the train. Its not incredibly easy, or legal for that matter, to read while driving. I must relegate some of my ability to undertstand the material to Daniel Fessler and his fantastic and seemingly timeless PMBR audio recordings for contracts, but while the bar testable concepts and materials are covered in the audio, the specific cases discussed in classes are not.

Fortunately the reading for Civ Pro for tuesday’s class was merely 2 cases, covering 3 whole pages. Those were somewhat simple to knock out. Fortunately, one of the things that the PMBR audio has helped me to do, was understand the concepts, and read just the cases themselves if I am in a pinch, and not necessarily the commentary of the authors. Note: The guides on the right hand side (Examples and explanations) are fantastic guides for solidifying the concepts in the main books, providing additional hypotheticals and fact patterns for studying.

I also suggest buying these books (click my links so I make a couple cents when you buy them) because there are only so many sources for law school exam fact patterns. This is not to say that your professor(s) will use books like this, but last semester I can say that there were some glaring similarities between some of the fact patterns in Examples & explanations and the fact patterns on at least one of my exam questions.

Playing catch-up on reading at midnight(ish)

Ok, so it’s tuesday night, just after midnight and I’ve caught up on reading, at least until tomorrow night’s tort’s class. My hope is to crack open a little bit of time in the middle of the day tomorrow to possibly do a video blog discussing the concept of forum shopping in Civil Procedure. It’s somewhat one of the more conceptually frustrating courses, in the sense that the merits of the claims themselves are often irrelevant, and that the issues turn on whether or not there was some sort of procedural snafu. So far in Civ Pro 2, it seems that the big focus is on jurisdiction, both over the parties, and over the subject matter.

More on this tomorrow. Time to get some sleep and try to get out of the house by 5:50am!

International Shoe v. Washington (Civil Procedure 2)

Welcome to Civ Pro 2, and the discussion of “minimum contacts” in determining a court’s personal jurisdiction over a party, most specifically a defendant.

It’s somewhat non-standard, from what I gather, to start with this case and not the landmark case Pennoyer v. Neff. In this case we discuss a company, International shoe, who decides to deploy roughly a dozen or so sales people into the state of Washington to solicit business for their company. The company is incorporated in the State of Delaware, and makes their home base in Missouri. The State of Washington sues International Shoe for proceeds to be paid into the state’s unemployment fund, which they feel they are due for the past 3 years in which International Shoe has their sales members on the staff.

In this case the court draws new lines for determining personal jurisdiction over a defendant, throwing aside the prior precedent of Pennoyer v. Neff ( I will return later to analyze PvN for clarity). The court declares that since the business that International Shoe is doing within the state is continuous in nature and satisfies the new idea of them, the defendant, having minimum contacts with the state, and therefore the lawsuit can proceed.

 

Note: Most of the cases discussed in Civil procedure will have very little to do with the merits of the case itself. The issue in International Shoe v. Washington was whether or not the State could sue the company in the state of Washington, versus suing in Missouri or Delaware, in which there would be no such appeal on personal jurisdiction.

Contracts 2- Unjust enrichment

This spring semester I have Contracts 2, Civil Procedure 2 and Torts.

Contracts 2 should be somewhat interesting, as I have the same professor as Contracts 1, and we’re basically picking up where we left off last semester. To note: of my grades last semester, my biggest success of the three classes was in Contracts 1, so I certainly am looking to pick up where I left off.

 

Today’s discussion: Unjust enrichment.

Today we’re looking at unjust enrichment, and a discussion on a number of situations that draw the line between those who are doing work in a contract without due compensation, and those parties who choose to be “officious intermedlers” such as the guy who unilaterally decides to mow your lawn, then and only then upon completion without your acknowledgement that there would be any compensation, to ask for payment for his services.

We’ve discussed a number of cases in the chapter here:

Martin v Little, Brown & Co., 304 Pa. Super. 424, 450 A.2d 984 (1981).

This is a case where James Martin uncovers that a book that was published by Little, Brown & Co. was supposedly plagiarized in another title. After turning in the info to Little, Brown & Co., and without any discussion of such a finder’s fee, extends his hand hoping to receive 1/3 of the fee that they win against the plagiarizer. This is a fairly straight forward case in which the court finds that since there was no explicit conversation and agreement as to how, if at all, Martin would be compensated, that he was not entitled to such compensation. Therefore Little, Brown & Co. was not unjustly enriched through the voluntary work of Martin.

Feingold v. Pucello, 439 Pa. Super. 509, 654 A.2d 1093 (1995).

This is another case that Blum & Bushaw use to illustrate some sort of connection between tort lawyers(personal injury lawyers) and issues of professional responsibility. In this case Pucello was the victim of an automobile accident, and Feingold, a lawyer, discussed helping him out in recovering for his injuries and other damages. There is no specific discussion as to his fee, and at first he does not have Pucello sign any fee agreement. After doing some work on the case, including helping Pucello get a doctor’s appointment, getting the defendant insurance company to admit liability, and other “early stage” sorts of things that a lawyer would do in a case like this, Feingold sends the fee agreement to Pucello, with a 50% contingency. As most clients in his situation would likely do, Pucello balks at such a hefty fee and says “no thanks, I’ll find someone else to help” and refuses any of the work product from Feingold. Feingold sues seeking some portion of the fee that he feels that he is entitled to for the work he has done thus far. The court finds that since there is no contract, and the reason behind Pucello rejecting the fee agreement is the absurd level of the contingency, that Feingold is not entitled to a fee or a portion of the fee in this case.

In Estate of Cleveland v. Gorden, 837 S.W.2d 68 (1992) we look at the only case this chapter where the one who feels another is unjustly enriched actually wins the case. Here, the niece of a decedent is attempting to be reimbursed by the estate for monies that she¬† output through the course of her aunt’s lifetime, and the time approaching death. These expenses included medical expenses, and other related expenses. The court in this case found that Ms. Gorden was acting out of a sense of family or moral obligation, and that the decedent knew that she expected to be reimbursed for her expenses that she made on Ms. Cleveland’s behalf. Normally, however, one who voluntarily and officiously pays another’s debts is not entitled to reimbursement unless the payment is made under¬† the compulsion of moral obligation. The court seems to specifically draw such a line between the scenarios of moral obligation and generosity.

Good times in contracts 2, and off to a good start.

 

 

One semester down….all the rest to go

I have survived…the first semester of my 1L semester at the University of Baltimore School of Law. I’m happy with the grades, but more happy to be moving forward onto another semester. Looking back, it was quite an interesting semester to have survived doing as well as I did, considering the following:

  • The birth of my son William on October 6th (I somehow managed to not miss a class as a result of this)
  • Being involved in a fairly serious automobile accident on November 11th
  • Working full time for what is becoming a much higher volume law firm
  • Trying to sell a house
  • Trying to buy a house
  • Several other things that I’m probably forgetting

Its been a fun semester, and I would have to say that aside from the overall goal of becoming a lawyer, I’m glad that I’m in law school. A lot of people are here for a lot of different reasons, and my reasoning is quite straight forward: to become a lawyer. As the winter break came closer to an end, I found through several conversations with other classmates, that I’m pretty much the only one who was itching to get back to work.