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You are the junior attorney in a big firm in the town of Harbor View, North Florida. It is your first day on the job and your boss, a woman who values time, accuracy, and completeness asks you to write a memo that outlines the chances that your client, Marsha Mellow, can recover for injuries sustained when she was bitten by her neighbor’s dog

All writing should be in Times New Roman, 12-point font, with 1-inch margins.  Your memo should be as long as it needs to be.  Longer answers are not necessarily better or more complete than shorter ones.

Points: 35

Grading Criteria: Completion

Directions

You are the junior attorney in a big firm in the town of Harbor View, North Florida. It is your first day on the job and your boss, a woman who values time, accuracy, and completeness asks you to write a memo that outlines the chances that your client, Marsha Mellow, can recover for injuries sustained when she was bitten by her neighbor’s dog. Boss provides you with her secretary’s notes from the conversation between Mellow and Boss about the incident.  You then locate the dog-bite rule for North Florida and the only three cases that deal with dog bites in your jurisdiction.

Review the facts of Mellow’s story, the rule, and the caselaw.  Then write a memo addressing Boss’s question.  Your memo must include the following sections:

  1. Question Presented (7 points)
  2. Short Answer (7 points)
  3. Statement of Facts (7 points)
  4. Discussion (10 points)
  5. Conclusion (4 points)

Your memo should state your conclusions briefly and clearly and then present the reasoning that supports them.  It should present assumptions as assumptions and be free of typos, grammar, and spelling mistakes.

Facts

The Secretary’s notes read:

Mellow accidentally threw a football into a neighbor’s backyard. Mellow knew the neighbor had a large Doberman Pincher. Some weeks earlier, the neighbor had casually warned Mellow to stay away from the dog because “He doesn’t like strangers.” A few times in the past, Mellow had seen neighborhood children open the side and back gates and use the neighbor’s backyard as a shortcut on their way to school. She’s watched the neighbor waving to the children from the back porch. The dog was normally tied up in the front yard. And on the day that Mellow lost her football, she peeked over the backyard fence, didn’t see the dog anywhere near the football. To save time, she skipped the gate and just jumped the fence, grabbed the football, and was running back to the fence, when the dog came out from behind some bushes. It ran over and caught Mellow, biting down hard on her hand; she kicked the dog and it then bit her buttocks, leg, and ankle before Mellow could finally get back over the fence.

Rule

The basic rule on dog-bite liability in North Florida is (1) defendant’s ownership of the dog; (2) injury caused by the dog; and (3) lack of provocation of the dog by the plaintiff.

Caselaw

Simpson v. Skinner: A seven-year-old boy, Bart Simpson, was on his neighbor Principal Skinner’s porch, grabbing and pullinq the ears of the neighbor’s dog and poking the animal in the stomach. The boy was told several times by the neighbor to stop what he was doing and leave, but the boy continued until the dog bit him once on the cheek. The court held that Skinner was not liable for the damage caused by the dog because: (a) the boy had no right to remain on the neighbor’s property; (b) the dog had the right to defend itself; and (c) even though the boy was a minor, he still provoked the attack.

Pinky Pie v. Discord: A three-year-old girl, Pinky Pie, was playing jump rope on her neighbor Discord’s front porch near the neighbor’s dog. She accidentally jumped on the dog’s tail. The dog yelped and scratched the girl on the leg with its front paws. The court held that the dog’s owner was not liable for the damage caused by the dog because: (a) even unintentional acts can constitute provocation of a dog; and (b) the attack was proportionate to the provocation.

Loman v. Charley: A door-to-door salesman was going from house to house selling magazine subscriptions. He climbed up the front steps of the dog owner’s house. There was no dog in sight. As soon as he rang the bell, a dog jumped out and barked at him menacingly. He tried to move off the porch but the dog followed his every move and was blocking him from leaving. The salesman sprayed the dog with pepper spray, which only partially hit the dog and the dog jumped on the salesman and bit him several times before the man could run off. The court held that the dog owner was liable for the salesman’s injuries because: (a) the salesman was using public sidewalks and going about his business in a peaceful way before the dog’s attack; (b) the spraying of the dog with pepper spray was only undertaken after the dog trapped the salesman; and (c) use of pepper spray or other action taken purely in self-defense did not constitute provocation.

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