ISSUE: What is the primary legal issue in the fact pattern? (ensure you clearly identify the plaintiff/defendant) What is the legal question that, when answered by the court, determines the result of the case? The issue should be stated in the form of a question in a specific, rather than general form: “Is there an agency relationship if there was no compensation paid?” would be an acceptable issue. Ultimately, what is the core of the legal issue in the fact pattern?
RULE: What are the relevant rules (jurisdiction, applicable case law/statute law – legal tests) in this case? The rule describes which law or test applies to the issue. The rule should be stated as a general principle, and not a conclusion to the particular case being analysed. Do not include facts or details from the case in the rules section.
APPLICATION: Apply the relevant rules to the facts in the case (identify the relevant facts and demonstrate how the law would apply to them). The analysis is the most important, and the longest, part of your answer. It involves applying the rules to the facts of the problem or question. You should use the facts to explain how the rule leads to the conclusion. Discuss both sides of the case when possible. Put yourself in the plaintiff or defendant’s position – what evidence would they want the court to consider, as it relates to the specific rules you identified when answering the issue questions?
CONCLUSION: What is the most likely outcome? (Who is likely to be successful? Will the defendant be liable? Why or why not? What kind of damages, if any, will likely be payable?) The conclusion is your answer to the issue questions in the first section. State the result of your analysis.
CASE STUDY B: Negligence
You are thrilled to visit Cretaceous Adventures, a new amusement park operated by InGen Inc. and located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The amusement park offers a variety of exhilarating rides, but you are most excited about the zipline.
The Cretacious Adventures zipline is the longest in North America, at over 2.5 km in total length. Riders may reach speeds of nearly 80 km per hour as they ride 70 meters above lush west coast rainforest, inhabited with life-size animatronic dinosaurs. Sure, there is a risk, but that is what makes it so thrilling!
To ride the zipline, you must purchase a separate ticket at a special booth once you are inside the park. Upon purchasing your ticket, you notice a paragraph in the bolded text on the back of your ticket. The text reads:
ASSUMPTION OF RISKS: I am aware that participating in Zipline Activities involves many risks, dangers, and hazards including but not limited to: travel on rough, uneven, challenging, or slippery terrain; changing weather conditions, equipment failure; failure to properly adjust or fasten equipment; improper use of equipment; slips, trips, and falls; over-exertion; fear of heights; impact or collision with trees, man-made or natural objects, other participants or guides; negligence of other participants or guides; and negligence on the part of the ingen incorporated or their employees (“ingen”). I understand that negligence includes failure on the part of the ingen to take reasonable steps to safeguard or protect me from or warn me of the risks, dangers, and hazards of participating in zipline activities. I freely accept and fully assume all such risks, dangers, and hazards, and the possibility of personal injury, death, property damage, and loss resulting therefrom.
Though the blurb does a good job of describing the physical risk of the zipline, it is silent on the legal risk associated with carelessness by InGen Inc. or their employees. Other than the warning on your ticket, which you just happen to notice on your own, you do not sign any other forms or receive additional warnings from any InGen Inc. employees.
Ticket in hand, you head for the zipline platform to anxiously await your turn. It is a particularly foggy west coast day and as you climb the tower the mist grows thicker. The man in line ahead of you introduces himself as Jeff. He looks terrified but seems determined not to let his fear stop him. You watch the InGen employee hook up Jeff’s harness and, after a brief exchange on his walkie-talkie with the employee on the next platform, send Jeff on his way. You watch Jeff disappear into the fog until the only sign of him is his shouts of “AAAHHHHHHHHH!” You can’t wait for your turn!
The InGen employee connects your harness and asks if you are ready for the ride of your life. You eagerly agree, a big smile on your face. The employee shows you how to use the brake handles on your line to slow down. He tells you that you will need both hands to operate the brake. You have a small camera that you plan to hold to capture your ride. You cannot wait to post the video to your social media feeds and are distracted thinking about all the “likes” and shares you will get. You are not really paying attention to the employee’s instructions.
Before you know it, it is your turn to go. You notice that unlike with Jeff, the employee does not talk on his walkie-talkie before he signals for you to step off the platform. You grab the tiny camera hidden in your pocket and step off into the misty air.
What a rush! Before you know it, you are whizzing through the air at over 50 km per hour. Through a clearing in the fog, you see a pack of velociraptors running down a gallimimus in a field below. You use both hands to steady your camera, capturing your smiling face and then the action on the ground below.
Suddenly, looking ahead you see Jeff. He has stalled out on the zipline and is just dangling there. In his fear, Jeff had overused his brake and become stuck at a standstill on the zipline. He sees you and shouts “STOP! STOP! STOP!” You hurry to shove the camera back in your pocket and apply the brakes, but it is too late. You and Jeff collide at a high rate of speed.
Thankfully, you are both wearing helmets and escape without any brain injury, but the collision causes significant injury to your spine and several broken bones in your arms and legs. You require surgery to repair the spinal injury and spend weeks in the hospital recovering, followed by months of painful rehabilitation that leaves you unable to work. Much of the rehabilitation costs are not covered by your health insurance, and you have to pay for them yourself.
During treatment, your doctor discovers that you have a rare blood disorder that reduces the blood supply necessary to heal broken bones. While an average person would have healed in 6 to 8 weeks, you are still in stabilizing casts 16 weeks after the accident.
At the advice of your lawyer, Paul Goodman, you decide to start a civil claim against InGen Inc.