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Practice Makes Perfect: Examples and Explanations

  After you read the question, jot down the issues that you see before you start to write. Make a tentative choice about the order in which you will discuss the issues. Any sensible approach that works for you will probably be acceptable to your professor. Some students take the facts line by line and discuss the issues as they arise. Another reasonable approach to organizing your answer is to first discuss the elements of the torts that might be claimed, and then discuss defenses, vicarious liability, and other peripheral issues. Often, the question will dictate the organization. If the question asks you to analyze the claims of Mary Smith and the defenses to those claims, do just that. Always focus ruthlessly on the instructions in the question to make sure you answer the question the professor has posed.

    McGee’s Bad Day

1.   Read the first practice question, on the next page. Write out quickly the issues you see. Put an asterisk next to the ones you think are important or complicated, to make sure you leave the time necessary to address them adequately.

2.   Now, start the clock and give yourself 90 minutes to write out an answer. If you aren’t able to spend 90 minutes on it, spend 45 on half the issues. Remember that you are not only trying to learn how to answer a question like this; you are trying to learn how to do so under exam conditions. So writing out the answer at your leisure would be useful, but not nearly as useful as doing it under time constraints.

If you are tempted just to read the question and then read the sample answer, resist the temptation. Painful as the process of taking the exam may be, spending the time to do this will easily be worth more than three or four hours of regular study time.

McGee’s Bad Day (90 minutes)

  The ventilating system at Elston General Hospital was giving out. Elston retained Climatrol Corporation, an established company with a AAA safety rating, to rebuild the system. The plan was to replace the large blowers on the roof first, and then to empty one ward at a time to rebuild the duct work in the individual rooms.

  The first blower arrived at about 10:00 a.m. on a gusty Monday morning, weighing in at about 7,000 pounds. Archer, an employee of Climatrol, began rigging a cable from a crane to the blower to hoist it up to the roof. McGee, a mechanical engineer on his way to the hospital to visit his wife, stopped to watch. He stood about 30 feet back from the crane, even though the crane had signs on it saying, “Warning! Danger! Stay 100 feet back!” McGee was surprised to see Archer rig the blower with single-braided cable, since he knew that triple-braided cable was usually used on such jobs. Archer’s boss had suggested using triple-braided cable, but the crane was equipped with single-braided cable, which was rated for 14,000 pounds anyway, so Archer rigged the blower with that. He then got into the cab and started to hoist the blower up to the roof.

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