Law Research Assignment
This assignment accounts for 30% of your grade in this course. It will give you a chance to explore a specific factual scenario involving the major elements of the tort of negligence and to develop your skills at legal research and analysis.
Please upload your completed assignment to the Dropbox on eLearn in a Word compatible format. Late assignments will be subject to penalties of 10% on the first day and 5% for every subsequent day late. It is due at midnight on Sunday, November 10, 2019.
This is not a formal legal memorandum. The components are as follows. Use the following three headings in the assignment you submit.
Introduction: one or two paragraphs, giving a statement of the issues you are analyzing, the short answer to that question, and two or three sentences explaining why you are answering it that way (with, if useful, reference to some of the cases you will cite).
Case Analysis: this is by far the largest part of the assignment. I want you to follow the following format, but please do not use subheadings or numbering for each of the components. Just start a new paragraph for each. The components are:
1. First, set out in one or two paragraphs the rules you think are relevant to the legal issue. These rules will come from the relevant cases and legislation you find and rely on. Cite the cases after each rule. The format should be the rule stated as a sentence in the simplest, most direct language you can use (and in your own words as this is not meant to be a quote), followed by the cases you draw that rule from. The first time you cite a case give the full name and citation, followed by a “short form” or “short name” in brackets. For all subsequent references, just use the short name.
2. After the initial one or two paragraphs of rules you should summarize each of the precedents you are using.
3. The precedent summary should usually be one paragraph long for each case, though you may find it easier to break it into two paragraphs for the more relevant and lengthy cases.
4. After the precedent summary you should compare the precedent to the assignment scenario and explain how factually relevant the precedent is, and which way the precedent suggests the scenario would be analyzed by a court. Here you have two options. You can either provide a paragraph of comparison after each precedent summary or give each precedent summary one after the other and save the comparisons until the end of this section of the assignment.
5. If you choose the first option for the comparisons, one paragraph will be long for most precedents. If you choose the second option for the comparisons, they will likely take a few paragraphs. Use your discretion as to what makes the most sense for length.
Conclusion: In a few paragraphs you should sum up the summaries and comparisons in an analysis of the assignment scenario using the cases you have summarized. You will have set up this analysis in the comparison paragraphs of each case summary, but you should sum it all up again in this last section. Here your focus is on the scenario. Cite the cases or legislation without going into excessive detail about them.
The only section headings in the assignment should be these three. You do not need to include a memorandum header at the top. Just jump right into the Introduction.
The paper should be no more than 3,500 words in length, not including the List of Authorities. Use 1.5 spacing and 12 point Times New Roman font.
Start with the cases and notes in the casebook. I also encourage you to look to textbooks on tort law. Then move on to outside research, using the cases you find in the casebook or textbooks as a guide. In the event it is not already clear, outside research is required for this assignment. You should use as least five (5) cases or pieces of legislation. There is no maximum, although you will be constrained in the number you use by the page limit. It should go without saying that the more thorough you are, the better you may do.
You should use the style you learned in Law 210, Legal Research and Writing. Also, follow the McGill Guide, 9th edition.
Finally, the List of Authorities. This should be a single page at the end of the assignment that lists, in alphabetical order, all of the cases you have cited with full citations. If you use legislation, you alphabetically list the legislation, again fully cited, separately. If you refer to any secondary sources you list those separately as well, alphabetized by the surname of the work’s first author.
Please see the next page for the fact pattern.
Skye, a resident of Vancouver, visited Dr. Bowie on February 11, 2016, to request a prescription for Cellulex, a drug that is injected into the tissue to firm up skin and reduce wrinkles and blemishes. Dr. Bowie is a cosmetic surgeon in North Vancouver, BC, who has performed a number of procedures on Skye since she started seeing him for prescriptions and surgeries in the mid-2000’s.
On this occasion Skye mentioned to the doctor that, “I think my husband and I are finally really ready to have a baby. We have begun trying and my astrologist says the planets are aligned for procreative success in March”. Dr. Bowie just smiled and nodded. He was no believer in astrology and knew that Skye and her husband had been trying to conceive a child together numerous times in the past three years.
Dr. Bowie prescribed Cellulex to Skye for a two week period, warning her that the drug could have the side effect of making her joints stiff and her personality cranky during the two weeks she took it.
It turned out that the planets had aligned earlier than expected as Skye discovered three weeks later that she was pregnant. She had an ultrasound which placed the date of conception within the range of February 8 to 15, 2016. Delighted, Skye sent her friends, including Dr. Bowie, birth announcement cards in the middle of May as soon as she had reached the end of the first trimester.
It turns out that research published between 2008 and 2013 had revealed that if a women used Cellulex at the time of conception or during the first month of pregnancy there was a 40-50% chance of birth complications due to enlargement of the placenta. The company that made Cellulex had fully informed all prescribing doctors, including Dr. Bowie, of this risk.
Skye learned in August 2016 that her placenta was oversized and distended. By that time it was far too late to consider an abortion. A month later, and after some difficulty, Skye gave birth to a baby boy. The child did not suffer the most severe possible defects that could result from a distended placenta, but was born with a flat, misshapen nose, a dark mark that covered most of his face, and no pinkie toes or fingers. The medical experts that Skye consulted confirmed that the Cellulex-caused placenta distension caused all of these defects.
Skye has come to your law firm to seek advice about a lawsuit against Dr. Bowie. She is considering suing for her own discomfort due to the enlarged placenta and the distress of seeing her baby born with, in her words, these “lifelong disfigurements”. But she mainly wants to see her adored boy, named Ziggy, achieve justice in the courts. When pressed, Skye admits that she might have aborted the pregnancy had she known earlier about the effect Cellulex had on the placenta. Skye had been very active on social media and a post she made back in 2011 which you have discovered stated that she would, “like to have children some day, but I am torn. I would want my child to be perfect and it would be so difficult to make the decision I would have to make if the foetus had, you know, problems … Yes, I might have to abort if my child was going to have serious defects”.
The lawyer on the file has asked you to research the question of whether Dr. Bowie owes a duty of care to Ziggy for the physical defects he suffered once born alive, due to the prescription of Cellulex.
The lawyer tells you to forget about breach and causation and just to focus on duty. You are not to write a formal memorandum. Follow the instructions on the first two pages of this document. Just find the most relevant cases and legislation, summarize them briefly, noting similarities and differences, and then sum up your findings with an analysis of these facts.
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