Final Exam Michael H. Hoffheimer
This is a closed book exam.
Do not remove the exam, blue books, or any exam materials from this room while you are taking the exam. When you have finished and turned in your answers, you may take these questions with you.
Do not speak with any person other than the faculty member who is administering this exam until you have turned in your exam answers.
This exam consists of two parts. You will have three hours to complete the exam. Answer all questions. Do not answer a question by referring to an answer to a different question.
Identify yourself on your blue books only by your exam number. By placing your exam number on your blue book and by submitting your blue book for credit, you are agreeing to the following pledge as required by law school policy:
my honor I have neither given nor received improper assistance. And I will report any improper assistance
that I am made aware of."
I. SHORT ANSWERS (suggested time two hours or ten minutes each)
Instructions. Answer each of the following questions in your blue book. Each question in this part can be answered adequately with a short well-written answer that is not longer than one paragraph.
1. Plaintiff sued Defendant in federal court based on diversity of citizenship. The complaint alleged that Defendant hit Plaintiff and caused damages in the amount of $100,000. The Defendant moved to dismiss arguing that the allegations were too vague to show that Plaintiff was entitled to relief. Alternatively, Defendant moved for a more definite statement. Rule on the motion and explain.
2. Bob Beier ordered a 16 ounce jar of mustard over the Internet from mustardblaster.com. The seller charged Beier’s credit card but did not send the mustard. After repeated complaints, the seller sent Beier on 8 ounce jar of mustard.
After reading about other similar complaints on the Internet, Beier sued seller for breach of contract and fraud, seeking actual damages of $3.50 for the failure to deliver the 16 ounce size that he ordered and also seeking $50,000 in punitive damages for fraud. The seller’s answer acknowledged the truth of the allegations about breach of contract but denied all accusations about fraud. The seller claims it was all an honest mistake.
During discovery, Beier seeks the production of documents, including all correspondence and email communications that the seller received from other customers in which the customers complained about the merchandise they received. The seller moves for a protective order, arguing that such documents are not proper discover or that, if they are, it will be too burdensome to produce them. You are the trial judge. Rule on the motion for a protective order and explain.
3. Able and Baker went for a ride on Able’s motorcycle. While Able was driving, a large truck operated by Charlie pulled out into the road in front of them, causing Able to lose control and collide with a brick wall. Able sued Charlie in the local small claims court for damage to the motorcycle. Charlie answered the lawsuit and contended that he was not legally responsible for the accident. Charlie lost, and the court entered a judgment against Charlie in the amount of $750.
The following week, Baker sued Charlie in a state court of general jurisdiction seeking to recover $40,000 damages for personal injuries. Charlie moved to dismiss the lawsuit on the ground of res judicata, arguing that Baker’s claim merged with Able’s. Rule on the motion and explain.
4. One evening, Harry Plaintiff was walking home
along the side of I-55 in
The plaintiff appealed the failure to instruct on punitive damages to the Mississippi Supreme Court. The Mississippi Supreme Court assigned the case the Mississippi Court of Appeals. After briefing and oral argument, the Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court.
Plaintiff comes to you for advice and wants to know whether she can appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court. Please advise.
5. Barry and Cherry Pandowdie are citizens of
has come to you for legal advice. She
wants to know what courts in
6. John Smith is a wealthy citizen of
In 2007 Smith proposed marriage to Betsy Fickle. Fickle agreed to get married, and Smith gave her as an engagement present the world-famous Heart Diamond. The diamond is conservatively valued at more than two million dollars.
was born and raised in
In the early summer 2008, Fickle told Smith that she changed her mind and would not marry him. He requested that she return the diamond and leave the apartment, but she has refused to do either.
late July 2008 Smith brought a civil action against Fickle in federal district
You are the trial judge. Rule on the motion and explain.
7. Westy, a lifelong resident of
took the diamond ring to Fritz Lang Jewelers in
has received three phone calls. First,
Westy has asked him to mail him the diamond ring. Second, Westy’s employer Lawnsogreen has
instructed Fritz not to return the ring because the employer claims that it
owns the property because it was discovered while Westy was working for
it. Third, Thurston Peters, a citizen of
Fritz has come to you for legal advice and asks whether federal interpleader is available, and, if so, where the action should be filed. Please advise.
8. Cal, a citizen of
contracted to purchase 500 widgets from Suzuki Importers, Corp. a
suppliers fail to deliver the widgets as agreed, causing Acme to breach its
The impleaded parties move to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Rule on the motion and explain.
9. Same facts.
Assume the court (rightly or wrongly) denies the motion to dismiss. Thrifty Widget Services comes to you for
legal advice. The action is pending in
federal district court in
The state of
Paul suffered serious injuries. He is considering bringing a civil action in federal court based on the theory that the attack violated federal civil rights laws. What federal districts will have proper venue in an action against both Thugson and his employer Sekurco?
11. A state statute in the state of X provides, “Exemplary or punitive damages may be awarded in all cases where the defendant’s wrongful conduct was malicious, willful or reckless.” The state supreme court has interpreted the statute as not permitting punitive damages in claims for breach of contract.
A diversity action is brought in federal court in state X alleging that the defendant willfully and maliciously breached the contract. The complaint demands $100,000 compensatory damages and $50,000 punitive damages under the state X statute. The defendant moves to dismiss the claim for punitive damages, citing the state supreme court decision. The plaintiff argues that the federal courts are fully capable of properly construing the state statute and are not bound by the procedural decision of the state supreme court. Rule on the motion and explain.
12. The Federal Rules of Evidence provide: “Cross-examination should be limited to the subject matter of the direct examination and matters affecting the credibility of the witness. The court may, in the exercise of discretion, permit inquiry into additional matters as if on direct examination.” Fed. R. Evid. 611(b).
In contrast, the state rules of evidence in state X provide, “Cross examination shall not be limited to the subject matter of the direct examination and matters affecting the credibility of witnesses.” The supreme court for the state of X has held that state X’s constitution guarantees litigants a right to cross examine a witness on any subject, whether or not it was raised during direct examination.
A case in brought in federal court located in state X stemming from the alleged faulty construction of a commercial mall. Witness Doe testified on direct examination for the plaintiff about the quality of the roofing materials. On cross-examination, the defendant asks Doe to testify about the Plaintiff’s failing finances. This matter was not raised on dir3ect examination and does not relate to the credibility of the witness. Instead it relates to the defendant’s theory that the lawsuit was a desperate effort by the plaintiff to avoid bankruptcy.
The plaintiff’s lawyer objects on the ground that the cross-examination exceeds the scope of direct examination. The defendant’s lawyer insists that the federal court is bound by the state rule on the scope of cross examination.
rule on the objection and explain.
II. Instructions. Consider the following problem carefully and write a coherent, literate essay in your blue book that responds to it.
The Case of the Bad Trip (suggested time 60 minutes)
Ann, Ben, Carlos and David were friends and fellow
students at he
Ann, Ben, Carlos and David commence a civil action in federal court in the Northern District of Mississippi against Canada Tours and Edward. The complaint alleges diversity jurisdiction. In the complaint, Ann demands personal injury damages in the amount of $50,000 and property damages in the amount of $15,000 for damage to her car; Ben demands personal injury damages in the amount of $60,000; Carlos demands $40,000 damages for personal injury; and David demands $12,000 damages for personal injury.
plaintiffs’ lawyer mailed Canada Tours a request for waiver of service form,
which Canada Tours signed and returned.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer arranged for service of process on Edward by
hiring a nonparty over age eighteen who personally delivered a summons and copy
of the complaint to Edward while he was present in
has never been to the state of
Tours, Inc. and Edward move to dismiss on the following grounds: 1) lack of
subject matter jurisdiction, 2) lack of personal jurisdiction, 3) insufficient
service of process, and 4) improper
venue. Please consider all issues raised
in these motions. Also consider whether
any of the pleadings or motions in this lawsuit may violate Rule 11.
1. The motion is denied. Federal Rule 8 requires only a short and plain statement showing the plaintiff is entitled to relief. A more definite statement is not required to answer this complaint, and the defendant can learn more about the alleged details and plaintiff’s legal theory during discovery.
2. The motion is denied. The information is discoverable because it is not privileged and is relevant because evidence of other frauds will refute the defendant’s contention that it committed an honest mistake. It is also discoverable because it may lead to the discovery of relevant information, including possible witnesses. The defendant has made no showing of undue burdens, but a court has discretion to split costs of discovery.
3. Motion denied. Merger is a form of claim preclusion. It applies only when there is a valid final judgment deciding the same claim between the same parties. Here the parties are different and the claim is different.
4. There is no right of appeal (petition of certiorari) to the U.S. Supreme Court. That Court lacks jurisdiction for two reasons. First, the decision is not from the highest state court in which a decision could be had. (A petition to the state supreme court is either still possible or was waived.) Second, it is not a decision that questions the validity of a state statute as repugnant to the U.S. Constitution or federal laws or where any issue is raised under federal law.
5. The Chancery Court has exclusive jurisdiction over divorce, alimony and minor’s matters. The Chancery Court also has jurisdiction over equity (injunctive relief) but the County Court if there is one has concurrent equity jurisdiction up to $200,000.
6. Motion for TRO without hearing is denied. Nothing is alleged or tends to show that the plaintiff will suffer immediate and irreparable harm during the short period of time before a hearing on a preliminary injunction could occur.
7. This one has two possible answers depending on whether you answered the question as written or based on the version we covered in class. I was really not trying to be sneaky–the change was the result of a mistake. (Kudos to those of you who read the facts carefully enough to find it!)
As written: there is no interpleader jurisdiction. There is neither complete diversity nor an amount in controversy for Rule interpleader, and there is no diversity among two claimants as required for statutory interpleader. (Those who concluded there was minimal diversity among two claimants also got credit. . .)
As it was in class: there is no Rule interpleader (for the same reason), but there is statutory interpleader jurisdiction because the value of the property is for $500 or more, two claimants are diverse per section 1332, and the property (or bond for its value) can be deposited with the court. Venue lies either in Missouri or Arkansas, where a claimant resides.
8. Motion denied. Impleader does not require either diversity or an amount in controversy. It is authorized by supplemental. The federal court has original jurisdiction over plaintiff’s claim against defendant (there is diversity and the amount in controversy is met). The defendant’s impleader claims are part of the same constitutional case under Article III because they arise from a common nucleus of operative facts. None of the grounds set forth in section 1367 for excluding supplemental jurisdiction apply.
9. The final judgment is embedded in a valid act of Congress and it is binding on federal courts. Accordingly, the motion to dismiss is not appealable because it is not a final judgment as it does not end all claims against all parties. Personal jurisdiction sounds like a great defense, but it was waived because it was not joined to the motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
10. Venue in the federal question case against both defendants lies in the federal judicial district (in Iowa?) where defendant Thugson resides because all defendants reside in the same state. This is because a corporation resides (for purposes of venue) where it is subject to personal jurisdiction, and the corporation is subject to personal jurisdiction where Thugson resides (unless he resides in Alaska, Hawaii or Maryland). Venue also lies in the district in Illinois where the alleged assault took place because that is where a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred.
11. Motion to dismiss granted. Erie establishes that the state law as authoritatively construed by its courts is binding on federal courts where the law establishes a right or defense. The federal courts lack constitutional authority to develop a different rule of decision. The state law is substantive as it significantly affects the outcome of litigation, and disregarding it would dramatically affect forum shopping and lead to unequal application of law depending on parties’ citizenship.
12. The source of the federal rule is a Federal Rule of Evidence, promulgated pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act. The rule is valid because it is a rule of practice and procedure in that it regulates how issues are presented to and decided by courts. The discretion is accords to federal judges appears to conflict with the per se scope of cross examination in state X court. Accordingly, the federal court will follow the federal practice.
Good answers will identify and discuss the relevant authority for the following:
1. There is no subject matter jurisdiction
No diversity or alienage jurisdiction because it is not an action between citizens of different states in which aliens are joined as additional parties, and aliens appear on both sides.
No amount in controversy because parties cannot aggregate their separate claims, and no plaintiff individually states a claim for more than $75000.
2. Personal jurisdiction
Federal court’s personal jurisdiction is linked to the state’s. (The 100 mile bulge does not apply.)
There is no personal jurisdiction over Edward
not served in the state
not covered by any of the four of long-arms...
does not have any minimum contact with state
Federal court proably has no personal jurisdiction over Canada Tours (corp.)
Long arm analysis needed. The defendant appears to be doing some character of work or service in the state, though that is not the basis of the claim.
If the long-arm applies, then there is a question of its constitutionality. Due process requires minimum contacts. Because the claims do not arise from the bus trips in the state, the corporation must be engaged in continuous and systematic business activity in the state to support general jurisdiction. This is unclear, but it does have the extensive contacts or derive the sort of revenue from business in the state that L.L. Bean derived from California, and the court found L.L. Bean’s contacts to be a “close question.” I think minimum contacts are not met but I’m not sure.
Even if there are minimum contacts, the four reasonableness factors–the burden to the defendant, the plaintiff’s need for the forum to assure complete relief, the needs of the interestate and international system, and the shared interests of the different states may weigh against the constitutionality of exercising personal jurisdiction.
3. Service on Edward by personal delivery is a valid method Edward pursuant to Rule 4 (and pursuant to state law of the state where served and the state law of the place where the action is pending). Service on the corporation was satisfied by the return of the waiver of service form.
4. Venue is proper because an alien may be sued in any district.
5. Rule 11 establishes that by signing and submitting a pleading or motion, an attorney represents that he or she has conducted an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances and that the claims, defenses or other contentions are either warranted by existing law or by the nonfrivolous argument for changing the law.
The complaint violates this standard because a reasonable inquiry into the facts and law clearly demonstrates that the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
The motion to dismiss for lack of venue violates the standard because a reasonable inquiry clearly establishes that venue is proper against aliens in the district.
[Some of the other motions probably also violate the rule for the same reason.]
 Should have been Missouri (as it was on the practice exam), and the student who answered this question assuming it was Missouri got full credit.