Happy 1st Birthday!

The Case Law Compendium: United States Law

Birthday Cake

Today marks exactly one year to the day that I first started writing the ‘voluminous’ Case Law Compendium: United States Case Law, and its pretty incredible to think that so much time has already passed, particularly given that I’m not even midway through the book  yet!

Anyway, needless to say my hard work continues on undaunted, and I’m hoping to share the first half of the criminal law section here in the next couple of weeks, so watch this space if you’re interested to learn more…

Electronic Signatures Neil

 

The civil procedure section is now finished!

The Case Law Compendium: United States Law

United States
‘United States Flags Map’ by Inspirowl Design

April 18 2018

Having recently completed this preliminary chapter of the book, I have provided a list of the cases covered in the civil procedure section for those that might be mildly curious. I would also add that it’s been a genuine pleasure reading and analysing these cases, all of which have helped educate me as to the intricate nature of State and Federal legalities, and I can only hope the readers will take as much pleasure in their reading, as I have in their writing.

Civil Procedure

1. Adam v. Saenger

2. Aldinger v. Howard

3. Asahi Metal Industry Co. Ltd. v. Superior Court of California

4. Ashcroft v. Iqbal

5. Baldwin v. Iowa State Traveling Men’s Ass’n

6. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly

7. Bernhard v. Bank of America Nat. Trust & Savings Ass’n

8. Bernhardt v. Polygraphic Co. of America

9. Blonder-Tongue Laboratories Inc. v. University of Illinois Foundation

10. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz

11. Burnham v. Superior Court of California, County of Marin

12. Byrd v. Blue Ridge Rural Electric Co-op. Inc.

13. Carnival Cruise Lines Inc. v. Shute

14. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett

15. Chicot County Drainage District v. Baxter State Bank

16. Clearfield Trust Co. v. U.S.

17. Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp.

18. Colgrove v. Battin

19. Conley v. Gibson

20. Connecticut v. Doehr

21. D.H. Overmeyer Co. Inc. of Ohio v. Frick Co.

22. Davis v. Farmers Co-op. Equity Co.

23. Durfee v. Duke

24. Erie. R. Co. v. Tompkins

25. Fuentes v. Shevin

26. Gasperini v. Center for Humanities Inc.

27. Gillespie v. United States Steel Corp.

28. Grable and Sons Metal Products Inc. v. Darue Engineering & Mfg.

29. Guaranty Trust Co. of N.Y. v. York

30. Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert

31. Hanna v. Plumer

32. Hanson v. Denckla

33. Harris v. Balk

34. Henry L. Doherty and Co. v. Goodman

35. Hess v. Pawlowski

36. Hickman v. Taylor

37. Hilton v. Guyot

38. Hinderlider v. La Plata River & Cherry Creek Ditch Co.

39. Hurn v. Oursler

40. International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington

41. J. McIntyre Machinery Ltd. v. Nicastro

42. Kalb v. Feuerstein

43. Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Electric Manufacturing Co.

44. Kulko v. Superior Court of California

45. Livingston v. Jefferson

46. Louisville and Nashville Railroad Co. v. Mottley

47. McGee v. International Life Insurance Co.

48. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Thompson

49. Mitchell v. W.T. Grant Co.

50. Moore v. New York Cotton Exchange

51. M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co.

52. Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co.

53. National Equipment Rental Limited v. Szukhent

54. North Georgia Finishing Inc. v. Di-Chem Inc.

55. Oregon ex rel. State Land Board v. Corvallis Sand & Gravel Co.

56. Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger

57. Parklane Hosiery Co. Inc. v. Shore

58. Pennoyer v. Neff

59. Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co.

60. Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Shutts

61. Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno

62. Ragan v. Merchants Transfer & Warehouse Co.

63. Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates v. Allstate Insurance Co.

64. Shaffer v. Heitner

65. Shoshone Mining Co. v. Rutter

66. Sibbach v. Wilson & Co.

67. Smith v. Kansas City Title & Trust Co.

68. Sniadach v. Family Finance Corp. of Bay View

69. Swift v. Tyson

70. United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs

71. Woods v. Interstate Realty Co.

72. World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson

73. Zippo Manufacturing Co. v. Zippo Dot Com Inc.

The Case Law Compendium: United States Law

Books

The Case Law Compendium: U.S. Law
‘Watercolour USA’ by Unknown Artist

26 November 2017

Today marks the commencement of my writing ‘The Case Law Compendium: United States Law’, the second instalment of ‘The Black Letter’ series of books, and my excitement is quietly simmering away as I begin preparing for the months ahead.

This compendium covers the principle law modules offered within leading American universities and Law Schools at Juris Doctor level, and will therefore include civil procedure, constitutional law, contract law, criminal law, property law and tort law. While I appreciate there has been a shift towards comparative and international law, particularly within educational institutions such as Harvard University, when similarly examining both Stanford and Yale, there appears an inclination to adhere to the core fields as shown above, hence I have decided to remain true to that ethos for simplicity’s sake.

While consciously adopting a linear approach, I aim to include around 385 case studies – well over twice the number found in ‘The Case Law Compendium: English & European Law’, and although there is perhaps obvious reason for this, particularly given the size and legal structure of American jurisdiction, I feel the end result will provide law students with more than sufficient insight into the mechanics of notable U.S. case law.

On a personal note, I am very much looking forward to this journey, and estimate that the book should be finished and available for purchase around summer of 2019, adding that I will consciously try to publish new case studies to this website where time permits.

In closing, I would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to those of you who purchased my first book (or plan to soon) and I sincerely hope that my efforts have been of valued assistance when working towards your chosen vocations.

Faithfully

Electronic Signatures Neil

Anderson v. Minneapolis, St.Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway Co.

US Tort Law

Anderson v Minneapolis
Image: ‘Train Painting’ by William Wray

The amendment of pleadings is an American civil right when free from the misdirection of a jury, and so on this occasion the intermingling of two events resulting in the destruction of property, allowed the claimant to establish reasonable causation before enjoying the benefits of restorative justice.

In August of 1918, it was alleged that sparks emitted from a locomotive engine owned by the defendants caused a bog fire that while unextinguished, continued to burn for an extended period, largely due to the usual drought conditions at the time. During early October, there were winds in excess of 75 miles per hour, which exacerbated the existing fire, while driving it towards the home of the claimant.

It was the subsequent effects of this natural occurrence that left the claimant’s home damaged and thus both the railway company and the Director General of Railroads ended up in the courts as co-defendants, as was permissible under § 10 of the Federal Control Act.

During the trial, there were two options open to the jury for a safe conviction, namely:

“If plaintiff was burned out by fire set by one of defendant’s engines in combination with some other fire not set by one of its engines, then it is liable.”

or:

“If the bog fire was set by one of defendant’s engines, and if one of defendant’s engines also set a fire or fires west of Kettle River, and those fires combined and burned over plaintiff’s property, then the defendant is liable.”

With confusion as to how best to approach the claim, the jury asked for confirmation as to whether liability could be found if it was agreed that the fire caused by the locomotive engine was significant enough to have been the primary contributor to the eventual fire that caused the damage, at which point the court agreed that it would. It was then that the claimant amended his pleading to one where both fires had been the sole cause of destruction to his home, as opposed to that of the bog fire alone.

While returning a verdict in favour of the claimant, the defendants argued that such pleading allowances were unlawful, before appealing to the St. Louis District Court, who denied a motion for a retrial, while allowing for the consideration of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Here consideration was given to both the discretion of the courts to allow for claim amendments, and the extent to which the Director General of Railroads is lawfully implicated. In the first instance, the Court explained how § 7784 of Ch. 77 of the Minnesota Statutes 1913 noted that:

“No variance between the allegations in the pleading and the proof is material unless it has actually misled the adverse party to his prejudice in maintaining his action or defence on the merits.”

Which on this occasion the court had already established which fires were attributable to the defendants, and at no point had any objection or evidence been shown to prove otherwise, while under § 4426 of Ch. 28 of the Minnesota Statutes 1913 also made it clear that:

“Each railroad corporation owning or operating a railroad in this state shall be responsible in damages to every person and corporation whose property may be injured or destroyed by fire communicated directly or indirectly by the locomotive engines in use upon the railroad owned or operated by such railroad corporation…”

It was further held that within the terms of the Transportation Act of 1920, Congress conferred no express limitations as to the powers of the Federal Control Act, and that evidence of this was available under §§ 202 and 206 of the amended statute, and so it was that for these reasons the Court refused to reverse the original decision and dismissed the appeal.

 

Abouzaid v Mothercare Ltd

English Tort Law

Abouzaid v Mothercare Ltd
Image: ‘Twinkling Eye’ by Pavel Guzenko

Manufacturer negligence and the powers of consumer statute are both central to a claim for damages, when a leading retailer is held liable for a loss of earnings through serious physical injury.

In 1990, the respondent’s eye was struck by an elasticated strap forming part of a foot warmer product known as ‘Cosytoes’, which was manufactured under the store’s own brand range. The extent of the damage was unknown at the time, however over the period that followed, the respondent was diagnosed with shallow temporal half-detachment of the retina, which in turn led to virtual blindness and total lack of central vision.

Some ten years later, the respondent sought damages under negligence, and through the powers afforded them under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. In defence, the appellants relied upon the investigative report of a highly qualified consultant engineer, whose notes confirmed:

“I conclude that in 1990 no manufacturer of child care products could reasonably have been expected to have recognised that elastic attachment straps for a cosytoes could pose a hazard to the eyes of children or adults, since the potential risk had not at that time been recognised even by experts in the safety of such childcare products.”

However, the engineer also stressed that:

“I found that for me it was quite easy to fasten the straps correctly from behind the seat unit. Attempting this from the front of the seat was more difficult, because it was not possible to see the fastening. It also required putting my head close to the seat in order for my arms to reach round behind it. I noticed that the elastic did have a tendency to pull the fastener through my fingers, and it could easily have slipped.”

Contrastingly, when transposing the requirements of the 1987 Act, Parliament was obliged to observe the terms of Directive 85/374/EEC in which the preamble outlined:

“Whereas, to protect the physical well-being and property of the consumer, the defectiveness of the product should be determined by reference not to its fitness for use but to the lack of the safety which the public at large is entitled to expect; whereas the safety is assessed by excluding any misuse of the product not reasonable under the circumstances…

[W]hereas a fair apportionment of risk between the injured person and the producer implies that the producer should be able to free himself from liability if he furnishes proof as to the existence of certain exonerating circumstances…”

In the first hearing, the judge found in favour of the respondent on grounds that embraced both manufacturer negligence and the presence of a defect, as described in s.2(1) of the Consumer Protection Act 1987, which reads:

“(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, there is a defect in a product for the purposes of this Part if the safety of the product is not such as persons generally are entitled to expect; and for those purposes safety, in relation to a product, shall include safety with respect to products comprised in that product and safety in the context of risks of damage to property, as well as in the context of risks of death or personal injury.”

Upon appeal, the Court reexamined the previous decision, and revisited the argument that what was evidentially unsafe in 2000 was not deemed harmful in 1990, in light of there being no recorded incidents of that nature upon which to rely at the time. With reference again to the consultant engineer’s notes, the Court emphasised how he had also stated:

“I conclude that I should have to advise anyone manufacturing such a cosytoes today that the product would have a safety defect unless the potential risk of injury (to the eyes of a child in the pushchair or the person fitting it) was either eliminated by design or that consumers were warned of the possible risks and how to avoid them. Such advice to consumers would need to include instructions for fitting the cosytoes that avoided the obvious difficulties that Mr Abouzaid and his mother were having prior to the accident.”

And that despite a lack of recorded industry data with which to determine the safety of the product, there was little to explain how consumer awareness had remained static over the preceding decade, with particular reference drawn again to s.5.1.2 of his report, which itself remarked:

“[T]he level of safety that consumers can reasonably expect is not necessarily a constant, but will rise over time in small steps, if the state of industry knowledge of hazards and their prevention improves.”

It was for these reasons that the Court agreed with the essence of the earlier judge’s findings, and that the level of damages awarded were an accurate representation of the loss suffered through such a simple error in quality control and user protection.

Topp v London Country Bus (South West) Ltd

English Tort Law

Topp v London Country Bus (South West) Ltd
‘London Transport Rt’ by Mike Jeffries

Proximity and lack of foreseeability, prevent this tragic claim for damages when a grieving husband argues that the owners of a minibus are liable for the death of his wife.

In 1988, a minibus owned and driven by bus company staff, was left parked and unlocked with the keys in the ignition, in the lay by of a nearby public house. It was considered normal practice for the drivers of these vehicles to leave them there in that state, as literally minutes later, it would typically be collected and driven by a replacement driver.

On this occasion, the replacement driver failed to turn up for work due to illness, which left the bus unlocked and clearly vulnerable to theft. During the time between the driver leaving the minibus and the accident taking place, the original driver had noticed it had not been taken as expected, and promptly notified his employers. At 11.15pm that evening, an unknown person took the minibus, and shortly afterwards ran down and killed the appellant’s wife as she was out cycling. This led to action being taken against the bus company, on grounds of breach of duty of care, negligence and foreseeability.

In the first instance, the court dismissed the claim, whereupon the appellant claimed the judge erred in law on three grounds, namely (i) judging the claim unreasonable, (ii) holding that the facts fell outside the scope of award for duty of care, and (iii) not finding the respondents liable for the victim’s death.

In Smith v Littlewoods Organisation Ltd, it was cited by Goff LJ that:

“[E]ven though A is in fault, he is not responsible for injury to C which B, a stranger to him, deliberately chooses to do . . . [that] may be read as expressing the general idea that the voluntary act of another, independent of the defender’s fault, is regarded as a novus actus interveniens which, to use the old metaphor, ‘breaks the chain of causation.’”

While in Denton v United Counties Omnibus Co, the court agreed that although an omnibus belonging to the defendants was stolen from an unsecured storage yard before bring driven into the claimant’s car, there was insufficient proximity between the owners, and the party liable for the accident to warrant any duty of care.

This translated that the thief and alleged joy-rider, was clearly in no position to consider the danger his actions posed, and irrespective of whether his identity could be established, and unfortunate as it was to have had his wife killed for no reason, a claim of negligence could not reasonably stand, on grounds of proximity and lack of foreseeability, thus the Court dismissed the appeal while holding that:

“[T]here was in the circumstances of this case a relationship of proximity between the defendants and Mrs. Topp. But I entirely agree with the judge that no duty of care is shown either in principle or having regard to the authority of this court…”

The Case Law Compendium Q&A

Books

Why did you write The Case Law Compendium?

I wrote the book for a number of reasons, but if pushed for a single motivation it would be to enable law students to navigate and hopefully excel at studying for their degrees. I could expand upon this, but that’s the shortest answer I can give you. In fact, the idea traces back to ‘The Black Letter’, which I created to keep myself busy after graduating with my LL.B (Hons) Law degree.

Essentially I set out to read and write about a number of cases I had touched upon while at university, expecting nothing more from the experience other than to stimulate my mind, and put my thoughts out there for those who might stumble across this website.

However, something quite unexpected happened.

What was this unexpected event?

In the months following the launch of The Black Letter (Black Letter Publishing), my visitor statistics were much higher than anticipated, however, it was the diversity of visitors that really surprised me. After calculating the numbers, I realised that people from over 110 countries had visited the website to read my case studies, and in fact this trend has continued to grow since then.

This indicated that not only was my writing appealing, it was reaching students all over of the globe, and this international outreach really excited me. It was then that my wife explained how a book would the perfect way to genuinely help law students, especially given that I couldn’t be there in person to help them understand the complexities of case law.

So which kind of student was it designed to help?

Quite literally all law students everywhere. And while I realise that each country has its own laws and jurisdictions, there is clear evidence that English law leads the way in this field, therefore the potential to assist overseas students is enormous. I cannot stress enough that The Case Law Compendium is much more than a book, it’s a study support resource unlike any law course book I have ever read, and I can say that with confidence, because had I found anything remotely similar to this whilst at university, I would have purchased it without a moment’s hesitation.

What make this book so special?

A number of things make The Case Law Compendium special, but to summarise it best, I would say that the book immediately closes the gap between the subject, the university and the student. And because law is built upon cases, undergraduates essentially have to quickly digest and appreciate why those cases are applied, relied upon, examined and used as precedent, and why the judges consult them when advancing laws or reaching decisions that the casual reader might not understand.

Institutionally speaking, most universities work to tightly scheduled timetables, and thus lectures are often overwhelming and confusing, largely because there just isn’t the time to explore case facets and themes.

However, by having a copy of The Case Law Compendium at the start of their course, every student can instantly refer to the cases discussed and thereby recognise the essence of the matter, the positions adopted by the courts, judges and litigating parties, without surrendering to hours of laboured reading in order to keep up with the strict course requirements.

Though perhaps the most invaluable aspect of this book is that it can be purchased and read literally months ahead of the required modules, thus preparing the students for the lectures, coursework and discussions ahead.

Likewise, by reading the additional modules in this particular publication, students can choose at least two of their selective modules with confidence. It’s also important to note that many family law cases will inevitably encroach on child law cases, again helping them with optional module selection.

From personal experience, property (land) and European law were the two most complex, challenging and often unnerving of the modules, even to the point that teaching the subject proved hard and painful to endure, largely because many cases are frequently layered, overlapping and therefore easily misunderstood. Yet by using The Case Law Compendium, the challenges are instantly reduced and reader knowledge is increased in a way that underpins the university curriculum.

Having spent many hours writing this invaluable book, I cannot overemphasise just how critical The Case Law Compendium is to all law students, especially those studying abroad, and it’s equally vital to remember that having stripped away all the superfluous material, keeping only that which will impact and explain exactly what happened and why, this is an asset not to be overlooked, particularly as English court transcripts are frequently, if not always, unforgiving to traverse, and so command absolute focus should the translation be correct.

So it makes the seemingly impossible, possible?

Yes. No matter how many ways you approach it, The Case Law Compendium defies traditional learning, because it marries the exactness of legal knowledge with the vulnerability of an uninformed reader, thereby producing something fresh and stimulating, a benefit unseen before in this complex and specialised field.

In fact, this book would take anybody remotely interested in law, and transform them into somebody able to now see inside the subject in a way that transcends convention, and yet enables them to respect and embrace the process of law in a totally different way.

By way of example, I recently practiced this approach with a Spanish acquaintance, unfamiliar with law, and yet after explaining a case that was connected to her country, she completely understood it, much to her surprise and my delight! In fact I have had quick success with everyone that I’ve tried this with, even explaining constitutional and European law to grandmothers in their seventies!

Because of this, I am supremely confident that once opened and digested, the readers will revel in their new found insight, while law students will keep the book firmly nestled inside their backpacks as their degrees unfold.

Who else can benefit from The Case Law Compendium?

Law lecturers, solicitors, postgraduates, professors, in fact anybody with a passing interest in law and the cases that help shape it.

Lecturers can refer to it to brush up on legislation and case discussions, they can even use it to copy key citations for presentations, in order to help explain the matters without taking up precious student time.

Solicitors can use it to remind themselves of key cases that might be useful when in court, and take advantage of the best citations when reaching out to the wisdom of the judges.

Postgraduates can use it to refer to cases that might be relevant for thesis or assignment arguments, or again, as a quick refresher of that which they would have already learned.

Professors, much like lecturers, can always rely upon the expeditious breakdown of case material and thematic content to help illustrate how laws have been influenced and outcomes altered, or even as a stimulating read on occasions where they feel compelled to remember how laws function.

Lay readers can simply delve into all the major topics without committing to a degree course, hopefully going on to study the subject in greater detail with increased confidence, or knowing it’s not the subject for them, while whatever the outcome, everybody wins.

Will it ever be sold in eBook format?

Having looked at the practicalities of this, I am sorry to say this is not an option right now. Those reasons stem from the fact that unlike fiction ‘novels’, the layout of the book requires the reader to note the citation references when reading and referring to it, which is not an option for Kindle devices and other associated electronic readers, besides, there is nothing like having a printed book beside you when working, as I can qualify, having proof read the book myself, and also having used it to quickly refer to court details etc. during the writing of this debut publication!

The Key Citations? What can you tell us about this aspect of the book?

One of the prerequisites of written legal text is that the student must include judgment citations relevant to the argument or theme discussed. This is a process that can require hours of laboured reading in order to find the most powerful statement relating to the case in hand. For those new to law, this is a huge challenge in itself, and so ultimately the only way to find these quotes, is from reading the case transcripts, documents that can run from ten to literally hundreds of pages, particularly in appeal cases, where there will be a number of judges commenting, as opposed to one in preliminary hearings.

In European law, there are also the opinions of both the Advocate-Generals and the Courts, again requiring valuable time in order to find the best, most relevant and impactive quotes possible.

By having personally analysed all 150+ cases during the preparation of the book, I have selected only the most relevant quotes before including them at the conclusion of the case studies.

In some instances, there are only one or two, while in others there are many more, a factor solely dependant on the judges themselves, who, when reading the material and organising their verdicts, offer knowledge that is purposeful to the matter.

This aspect of the book is quite simply essential, not only because the citations are there to both read and use, but because they have been fully OSCOLA referenced, thereby easily inserted into coursework without the need to find out the exact page number, judge name, court, and hearing date. This is yet another time-saving feature that everybody can benefit from, including undergraduates through to professors of law, while in the former example, academic grades are naturally reliant upon accurate referencing when impressing the markers.

So that’s three unique selling points rolled into one!

Yes it is, but the book goes far beyond that, it inspires the reader, opens the subject up and allows for everybody to discuss what it really means to go to court, or to apply law in our everyday world, even giving insight into how matters end up in front of judges, how institutions operate, governments function, criminals try to avoid punishment and small accidents become huge lawsuits.

What would you like to say as a closing statement?

I would close by saying to anybody remotely curious about the various laws of both England and Europe, and especially those about to begin their law degrees, that ‘The Case Law Compendium’ is quite simply the only purchase they will need to make outside of the core text books required by the universities, and while it will certainly provide buyers many hours of stimulating and enlightening reading, it will also serve as a tool that can be used again and again as their legal knowledge increases.

This alone makes The Case Law Compendium the best law study resource available anywhere in the world today, which is perfect, as it is live on most Amazon sites and ready for shipping to any country.

The book is also being actively marketed to literally thousands of leading bricks-and-mortar retailers, university libraries and online bookshops around the globe, so even if you don’t want to shop online, you can simply walk in and pick a copy up, borrow it from your campus library, or just order it through a book store.