Oh, law school. Where to begin? I know! Torts. Oh, torts. You are awful. I am not even sure why. You are like the Magic-Grow Animals of the law:
The concept seems simple. And then, it grows. Exceptions creep in. Half the Restatement rule was picked up, but the other half was not.
Slotting the variables into the definitions becomes a shell game:
In the middle of the exercise you panic and decide that your jackass friend who fell into your fountain was not a licensee, but an invitee because you told him he could only come over if he brought pizza and have to start all over. But is pizza an economic benefit? (Seriously, let me know in the comments, asking for a friend.)
And don’t even get me started on comparative fault. How is it possible that if there are 4 defendants, all equally culpable, that the plaintiff winds up being the most culpable? It’s like Al Gore losing the election because people don’t understand a two party system and the executive branch. Math is hard, people.
So, what have I learned from all this? That negligence and product liability law is probably not going to be my area of practice. And that my course outline looks like I’m trying to diagram MC Escher’s Relativity.
What I can’t decide is if I am very smart or very stupid. Because I can tell you, I spend each of these classes in a cold sweat, trying to think through every possible ramification of the hypotheticals posed, and wondering how I’ll ever be able to advise a client on whether they need to fence their yard or if a simple sign will protect them when their vicious cockapoo attacks a girl scout.
But it turns out that others in the class are less concerned.
We have the girl who is apparently getting married, since instead of pondering what torts have been committed in the last X-Men movie, and if the X-Men would fall under the firefighter rule, she spends her class scrolling through wedding dresses.
There is the guy who seems to be spending the bulk of the class reorganizing his fantasy football team.
Or the three in front of me, who I’ve finally realized, are chatting, WITH EACH OTHER in Messenger. While I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are having a serious back channel discussion about the importance of exculpatory clauses for the local quidditch league, I think my optimism is misplaced.
It’s not that Torts is boring. It is not boring. It is complicated, and has tentacles that seem larger than that of the Kraken, but it is not boring.
And Professor Excellent Hair is also not boring. He presents interesting hypotheticals, that he obviously finds hilarious – as illustrated by a little, tiny hop that he does when he finds the material particularly amusing.
So what am I missing? Why are all these students tuned out? Is it that Torts is far less complicated than I am making it? Is there some sort of magic matrix that clarifies all of these issues into a single formula?
I have no idea, but if the cat gif guy keeps scrolling through memes I may grab his Microsoft Surface, throw it to the ground and stomp on it in the next class.
And yes, I’m well aware that I would be committing the intentional tort of battery, because the tablet is closely appertunate. It would be, right?! Right?! I’m pretty sure that’s going to be on the exam…