Following tangents on an exam

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sighsigh
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Following tangents on an exam

Postby sighsigh » Fri Nov 21, 2014 10:55 pm

What do you do if on an exam with a fact pattern, there are alternate factual possibilities that could alter your answer significantly, but there's no evidence for them?

Say there's a fact pattern where Bill gets his contract broken, and you're trying to determine the damages he's entitled to. The fact pattern shows that he's clearly entitled to economic damages, but no mention is made (or could be reasonably inferred) of him suffering mental distress.

Do you ignore the topic of mental distress damages entirely?

Do you briefly mention mental distress damages to show your professor that you remembered it ("if Bill suffered mental distress from the contract breach then he might be able to claim additional damages, but as there is no evidence for mental distress I will not pursue this avenue further"). Would this mention get you points or is it just a waste of time?

I'm guessing you probably shouldn't make up an entire scenario from scratch where Bill suffers mental distress and you determine the damages through a lengthy analysis. That would be following the tangent too far.

I'm not sure how to approach this. Thanks.

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BVest
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Re: Following tangents on an exam

Postby BVest » Sat Nov 22, 2014 12:08 am

I honestly don't know if it has gotten me points*, but I have mentioned it but not allowed myself to spend time on something the prof isn't asking about. E.g. "Since no facts pointing to mental damages have been alleged, this analysis does not address the issue." 15 seconds to type it. If you have the spare 15 seconds, go for it; if not, focus solely on the facts your prof has included.


* I had one prof who definitely would have given points, because she had a model answer after the exam for a question of "Discuss the causes of action that X has against Y" that included a cause of action that a 3rd party had against both X and Y. And despite the clear call of the question, she had awarded a couple extra points for that analysis.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Following tangents on an exam

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sat Nov 22, 2014 6:00 pm

I'd stick to the facts given. At most you can mention, using your example, that no facts exist supporting a finding of mental distress damages, but you will probably be pressed for time to address all the facts given, let alone facts not there. I don't see you getting bonus points for mentioning an issue not raised by the facts.

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B.B. Homemaker
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Re: Following tangents on an exam

Postby B.B. Homemaker » Sat Nov 22, 2014 6:07 pm

Depends on the prof. You might get a bonus point or two for spotting an issue and stating, as suggested above, that it is a possibility but isn't addressed in the fact pattern. That's the absolute most I would do with it.

As examples, 1L fall, I had one professor who would have given nothing for such a mention. I had another who definitely would have given a point, as he liked exams that vomited up every possible concept learned in class, no matter how unrelated to the fact pattern at hand. The latter is much more the exception, so I'd lean strongly toward sticking to the fact pattern and maybe, at most, a few words about the other issue before moving on.

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seespotrun
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Re: Following tangents on an exam

Postby seespotrun » Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:59 am

Mental distress damages for breach of K--wtf? Is it some theory of recovery in tort (i.e., bad faith breach of k)?

I don't want to threadjack, but if there were no facts to suggest some chance of P recovering damages under some bizarre theory of recovery available in only a tiny minority of jxs, then by addressing that tangential non-issue, you'd risk, at best, wasting time and thereby losing points indirectly (think: opportunity cost) or, at worst, losing points directly if your prof is the type to mark down for making her read irrelevant law fodder.

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BVest
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Re: Following tangents on an exam

Postby BVest » Sun Nov 23, 2014 6:39 pm

I think OP was grasping for an example and came up with a poor one. But good examples do come up on the exams. The important thing to remember is that the prof probably included what facts s/he did for a reason (even if that reason is occasionally obfuscation), and excluded others also for a reason; be sure to address all of the issues related to those that were included before you whip off any one-liners about plausible facts that would naturally follow but were not provided.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Following tangents on an exam

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:26 pm

The example my contracts prof used for mental distress damages arising from breach of K was a funeral home screwing up in some horrific way - terrible embalming or mishandling the corpse or putting the wrong body in the coffin or stuff like that. The point was that it's almost virtually never going to happen, unless it' some really sensitive situation like screwing with your dead loved one.

But I agree with everyone else. Cover all the stuff that your prof clearly intended to be talked about; if you have time, feel free to throw in the other possibilities; unless your prof has made clear they like word vomit.




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