A pretty fishy story The other day a lawyer friend of mine shared an interesting story he supposedly heard from a judge some years ago. The story has two parts. Whether its true or not is another story but it makes an interesting discussion for law students. Part One- A catastrophe of events Fred and Floyd were fish mongers in Frontenac Fish Market. Fred was a practical joker and often played a harmless practical joke on Floyd in which Fred pretended to slap Floyd with a filet of fresh fish. Fred would sneak around in the fish locker and hide around a corner, and then jump out pretending to hit Floyd with the filet. Floyd was a good sport never really got mad at Fred because he never actually got hit with a fish. One day a fish inspector was checking the locker and noticed for the third time a fish oil spill on the floor. She had told the president of the Frontenac Fish Market to clean up the fish oil spill and he promised to fix it. In fact, the President told Fred and Floyd to clean up the spill but they never did and the president never followed up. A fish oil spill is a FDA safety violation and the fish inspector decided to put her foot down once and for all. While the fish inspector was bending over to get her iPhone to take a picture of the offending oil spill, Fred jumped out of his usual hiding place to threaten Floyd, who was walking down the locker corridor, with Freds famous fish filet slap prank. Thats when the trouble started. The fish inspector stood up, surprising Fred who stepped sideways right onto the offending fish oil spill and slid right into Floyd, delivering a terrific fish filet slap to Floyds foot. Floyd howled in pain surprising the fish inspector who dropped her iPhone which then clicked a video of Floyd, Fred and the fish inspector in a series of hilarious but humiliating positions of spilled fish and groping limbs. By accident the iPhone was kicked, hitting an app tab to YouTube which placed the video on the web where it became an instant viral smash hit. Flora, who was driving on Lindbergh Road, had her iPhone open when the fish video started streaming on her iPhone screen. It was so hilarious and humiliating that Flora took her eyes completely off the road. In the meantime, Floyd became completely enraged and chased Fred with an ice hook in an attempt to hook and gut Fred. Fred then fled the fish market and stumbled out on to Lindbergh Road, colliding with Floras car with Flora at the wheel and who was still laughing at the fish video and completely oblivious to her driving. Floyd was also hit by Flora’s car in his mad dash to filet Fred. Fred and Floyd were covered in fish oil from the offending oil spill and several drops of the fish oil hit the pavement ahead of Floras car. Flora veered out of control, slid across the fish oil and caused Flora to tumble from the drivers seat right on to the accelerator. Floras car then sped across the parking lot of Plaza Frontenac right towards the ballroom of the Frontenac Hilton where a militant anti-fish group, Freedom For Fish was holding a fund raiser for the prohibition of fish as food. The Feeble twins had been dragged by their mother to the FFF fund raiser and were getting fidgety and decided to sneak out of the ball room and have some fun. Looking out a window, the Feeble twins saw Fred and Floyd still running around with filets of fish flying and Floyd waving the ice hook like a madman. As a joke, the Feeble twins started yelling Fish fight, Fish fight! knowing how it would agitate the diehard FFF members. Predictably, the FFF crowd was roused to an angry mob and began to storm the exits to attack the alleged fish fighters. The exits became clogged, causing fondue pots to overturn and start to smolder (The FFF slogan is Eat feta, not Fish!) causing a panic in which many attendees were injured. Around this time, Flora got back into the drivers seat and hit the brakes but still ran into a number of escaping attendees who suffered serious injuries. The police and ambulances arrived shortly thereafter to make arrests, subdue the angry mob, administer to the injured and make accident records. Soon thereafter the following events occurred which raised a number of questions according to the judge. 1. The President of Frontenac Fish market was arrested and convicted. – What was the charge or charges? – Why was he convicted? 2. Fred and Floyd sued the fish inspector and YouTube. – What was the complaint or complaints? – On what facts of this fish story could Fred and Floyd base their complaint(s)? 3. The Feeble Twins were arrested for inciting a riot. – What facts would the district attorney use to prosecute this charge? – If you were the public defender representing the Feeble twins, what are the best facts of this fish story that could acquit them of this charge? 4. The Frontenac Hilton sues the Frontenac Fish market in tort for damages to its premises and also seeks indemnification for the injuries of the FFF attendees who are suing both Frontenac Hilton, Flora, and Frontenac Fish Market. – What is the best defense for Frontenac Fish market? ? Who should win at trial- Hilton or the Fish market? 5. The judge said he lost track of the number of possible lawsuits that could be brought and won by the range of potential plaintiffs in this fish story. – What winnable lawsuits do you see in this fish story? – Who are the particular plaintiffs? – Who are the respective defendants? – What is the respective complaint? – What right did the respective plaintiff have and what duty did the defendant owe to the plaintiff? Part Two- The Scales of Justice The judge went on to say that he presided over some cases that arose from the preceding fish story. He also heard from a number of other judges and court clerks about the cases that arose from the preceding fish story. Some of the cases had interesting outcomes. Consider the following: 6. Floyd sued Fred for assault and battery. In his complaint Floyd said he understood that Fred didnt mean it but Floyd was still hurt all the same when he was hit by Floras car. Floyds complaint never did mention what his damages were or if he had any. Freds attorney prepared two possible responses to file on Freds behalf. – The first response was an answer that admitted everything that Floyd charged in his complaint. It also contained a summary judgment motion to then dismiss the complaint with prejudice (prejudice means a final judgment). – The second response was a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim for which the court could provide relief to the parties. – Would you recommend one of the above responses to Fred? Why? – Is there another response you would prepare if you were Freds attorney? What is it? 7. One of the judges mentioned that his clerk received a motion for summary judgment filed by Flora against Frontenac Fish Market for personal injuries and injuries to her car. In her motion, Flora said she had sent a complaint letter by certified mail directly to Frontenac Fish market and demanded $1,000,000 in damages. Under the rules of procedure which Flora put in her complaint, Frontenac Fish had 30 days to respond to her complaint. Frontenac Fish never responded to Flora and after 60 days Flora filed the summary judgment motion with the local court clerk. The judge summarily dismissed Floras motion for summary judgment. Flora then filed an appeal from the judges dismissal of her motion for summary judgment. The appellate court denied Floras appeal. Flora is now filing a writ with the State Supreme Court to appeal her denial by the appellate court and is claiming a violation of the due process clause of the State and US Constitution. – How do you explain the judicial actions in this case? – What is likely to happen with the State Supreme Court? – What can Flora do to get her day in court? – If Floras complaint was heard in Court, what is the basis of her complaint against Frontenac Fish? Can she win it? Why or why not?