One of the cool things about taking Torts in law school are the stories. Every case is a mini-series worthy of binging. That may account for why I became a medical malpractice attorney.
The pinnacle of Torts is the final exam (remember, by the way, that the final is the only grade in the class, so, hey, no pressure). Professors work on them forever, they pride themselves on the inventiveness of their fact patterns. The final is usually two to three questions, students have 3 to 4 hours to answer. That’s 3 to 4 hours to spot the issues among the red herrings, apply the law to the facts and the facts to the law in answering.
It really would be fun if so much wasn’t riding on it.
Every once in while, I’ll be watching a movie or TV or streaming show and something will pop up that looks remarkably like one of those hypothetical Torts questions.
It’s from the first ten minutes of Amazon Prime’s huge summer hit, The Boys. (Yes, spoilers . . . though it’s been out since July). The setting is what looks like modern day New York City. It’s certainly recognizable with the only difference being that there are superheros – Supes – zipping around fighting crime with almost everything they do broadcast on reality TV. Supes are enormous celebrities, they are employed by a mega conglomerate, Vought International.
The fact pattern: A nice guy named Hughie is walking done a side street with his equally nice, college student girlfriend, Robin, discussing their futures together.
They stop on the sidewalk, kiss, hold hands, and decide to move in together. It’s a beautiful moment. But, Robin has to go to school. Still holding hands she steps off the curb and leans in for a goodbye kiss . . .
. . . and explodes in a cloud of red. Hughie is left holding her hands, the only things that remain of her. Hughie is blood drenched and in shock. Twenty yards away a Supe, A-Train, suddenly materializes, says, “Oh … I gotta go … gotta go …” and vanishes in a gust of wind. A-Train moves at supersonic speed, he can’t be seen while moving, though the effects of his wake can easily be felt.
Hughie remains in shock. He can’t eat. He doesn’t go to work, he is beyond devastated. The love of his life is dead and he had only her hands left to bury.
A Vought representative visits Hughie shortly after Robin’s funeral. They ‘regret’ the ‘incident.’ The rep tells him straight out, “We have no legal obligation to you, you weren’t married,” but Vought wants “to do right by you for your pain.’
Vought offers Hughie $45,000, but he must sign a non-disclosure agreement.
“I want an apology,” Hughie says.
“Not going to happen.”
“Look, A-Train was on his way to stop a bank robbery and save lives, so …”
That’s where that ends. Hughie won’t take the money and the plot(s) takes off. Over the course of the next few episodes we learn:
- Hughie has very – very – deep seated emotional problems all coming from the ‘accident;
- Those emotional problems lead to a series of devastating events;
- A-Train was not on a mission, he was on a private errand;
- A-Train was, in fact, going to buy drugs;
- The drugs responsible for his supersonic speed;
- Vought knew A-Train was ‘juicing;’
- Vought encouraged the ‘juicing;’
- Vought not only encouraged the ‘juicing, they manufactured the drug and sold it surreptitiously to their ‘Supes.’
Discuss and analyze the issues raised by the original fact pattern. Discuss and analyze how the additional facts impact your initial findings.