July 2017 Third Example Ten-point Answers to Virginia Essay Questions
July 2017 - QUESTION 6 – VIRGINIA BAR EXAMINATION
James, who lives in Roanoke, Virginia, is in love with Isabel and plans to surprise her and propose to her next month at a formal event. He plans to give Isabel a two carat antique diamond engagement ring that he recently inherited from his grandmother. One night, James and his brother were sharing a bottle of champagne and decided to do a "dry run" of the proposal. James took out his brand new tuxedo and put it on. Then James took the ring out of its velvet box and placed it in the tuxedo jacket's chest pocket. He and his brother continued to drink champagne and James spilled some on his tuxedo. James eventually fell asleep in his living room wearing the tuxedo.
The next day James knew that he needed to get the tuxedo cleaned after the champagne spill. He also planned to take the ring to the jeweler to be re-sized for Isabel. He took the suit to Cate's Cleaners and asked that it be dry cleaned. Cate said she would have it ready for him in two days. James was a regular customer, and Cate properly entered his information into the computer but forgot to give him a ticket for the tuxedo. James then went to Jack's Jewelers, where his mother had just had the ring appraised for $6,000. When he opened the ring box, it was empty. He assumed he had left the ring in his living room.
Two days later, Drake picked up his own dry cleaning from Cate's Cleaners. As he was walking up the public sidewalk, Drake accidently dropped the dry cleaning. Unbeknownst to him, a ring fell out of the dry cleaning and onto the sidewalk. When Drake got home, he realized his dry cleaning included a very nice tuxedo with a label identifying James as the owner. Drake kept the tuxedo and never advised Cate that she had given the tuxedo to him.
Later that night while walking her dog, Linda found James' antique diamond ring, which had fallen out of the tuxedo pocket when Drake dropped the dry cleaning. The next day she took it to Jack's Jewelers, where it had been recently appraised, and the jeweler told her that it was a valuable antique and that it belonged to James.
When James went to pick up the tuxedo, Cate could not find it and after searching the next day had to admit to James that she had lost or misplaced the tuxedo. She apologized and offered him $100. James declined her offer as he had just purchased the tuxedo for $800, and believed he should be compensated for his trouble in getting a new tuxedo as well. James then remembered that the ring was in the chest pocket of the tuxedo.
James filed a Warrant in Detinue in the General District Court for the City of Roanoke against Cate's Cleaners for the loss of the tuxedo and the ring, basing his claims against Cate's Cleaners on a breach of duty as a bailee of the tuxedo and ring, and seeking damages in the amount of $1,000 for the tuxedo and $6,000 for the ring.
|(a)||What must James prove to establish a prima facie bailment against Cate's Cleaners for the tuxedo, and is he likely to prevail? Explain fully.|
|(b)||What must James prove to establish a prima facie bailment against Cate's Cleaners for the ring, and is he likely to prevail? Explain fully.|
|(c)||If James does not prevail in either or both of his actions against Cate's Cleaners, to which Virginia court should he appeal, and what is the applicable standard of review? Explain fully.|
|(d)||Does Linda, as the finder of the diamond ring, have any legal right to the ring? Explain fully.|
July 2017 - QUESTION 6 – EXAMPLE ANSWER #1
James is likely to prevail on a breach of duty claim against Cate's Cleaners arising from the bailment of the tuxedo.
Under Virginia law, to establish a prima facie bailment, the bailee must take possession of the personal property, with the intent to serve as a bailee over the property.
In this case, James must first prove that Cate's Cleaners took possession of the personal property. That element is satisfied here because Vate took possession of the tuxedo and said it would be ready for him in two days. Next. James must show that Cate's Cleaners had the requisite intent to care for the personal property as a bailee. This intent requirement is established here by Cate's willingness to take the tuxedo when handed over by James. Cate acknowledged receipt of the tuxedo and assured the suit would be ready in two days.
The next issue, is determining the level of care Cate's was required to observe while serving as a bailee of the tuxedo.
Generally, an intentional, mutually beneficial bailment gives rise to a duty of ordinary care. Thus, the bailee will only be held liable if she fails to recognize ordinary care and the personal property is lost or destroyed as a result of the breach of duty.
In this case, it is likely that James will prevail on this theory. A court will likely find that a Cate breached the duty of ordinary care when she forgot to give James his tuxedo ticket. Additionally, James was a regular customer and his information was properly entered into the computer, and was present on the label identifying the tuxedo as James's when Drake inspected it when he got home. Thus, not only was Cate likely in breach when she failed to give the ticket, but her failure to check the label was also a breach in her duty, and had she checked she would not have improperly delivered the tuxedo.
Alternatively, Cate's Cleaners will likely be held liable on a theory of strict liability for a bailment. Under Virginia law, a bailee is strictly liable for the misdelivery of personal property. This liability arises in situations such as parking garages, coat checks, and situations like this at the dry cleaners. Thus, Cate will be held liable even if she exercised ordinary care because she misdelivered the suit.
As a result, James will likely establish a prima facie case for a bailment and will likely prevail against Cate's Cleaners.
As discussed above, to establish a bailment the bailee must take possession of the property with intent to serve as a bailee.
Under the facts here, James is unlikely to establish a prima facie bailment.
A bailment requires intent of the bailee to act as the bailee over the property. In other words, the bailee must intentionally exercise control over the property. Here, with regards to the ring, Cate's cleaners could not have intentionally taken control over the ring without having knowledge of the rings presence. The facts do not indicate that Cate had knowledge of the presence of the ring. In fact, the facts show that the ring fell out of the tuxedo when Drake picked it up. That evidences that the ring was still in the same pocket where it was placed by James.
James may argue that there is a pre-existing relationship between the partie and if he is able to show that Cate's generally inspects the pockets he may be able to establish knowledge. But at the time possession was handed over there was no intent to take possession or exercise control over a ring. As a result, there was not bailment and James will not prevail against Cate's Cleaners with regards to the ring.
If James does not prevail in either or both of his actions against Cate's Cleaners he should appeal to the Circuit Court for the City of Roanoke.
Under Virginia law, General District Courts are considered courts not of record. As a result, both parties are entitled to appeal a judge's final order in General District Court ("GDC") so long as the proper periods are met, and there is a minimum of $20 at issue.
In this case, if James does not prevail in GDC, he should appeal directly to the Circuit Court by filing a notice of appeal with the Clerk of Court at the City of Roanoke General District Court within 10 days of the entry of the final order in General District Court. James should also send notice of appeal to counsel of record for Cate's Cleaners.
As long as the proper procedures are met, James will be entitled to an appeal in Circuit Court and the matter will be reviewed de novo, meaning there will be no deference to the ruling made in GDC. The Circuit Court will retry the matter fresh.
Linda, as the finder, has a right to possession over the ring, but not title.
Finders law in Virginia treats found property differently depending on the characterization of the property when found. Property may be characterized as abandoned, misplaced, or lost.
Abandoned property is property that is left with the proper intent of the owner to relinquish both possession and title. A finder of abandoned property who has the intent to exercise title over property takes the property free from all other claims.
The property here is not abandoned because James never relinquished title. James still intended to keep title of the property, evidenced by his desire to find it after it was not found.
Property is "misplaced" when possession is voluntarily relinquished but there is not intent to relinquish title. A finder of misplaced property has inferior rights to the true owner, and the owner or occupier of the land on which it was found.
In this case, James's ring was orginially misplaced. James, although drunk, intentionally placed the ring in the pocket, but later forgot to retrieve it. Thus, by placing the ring in its location voluntarily, he created misplaced property. This situation becomes more complicated because Drake did not find the ring from the position in which it was originally misplaced, but instead, the ring fell out onto a public sidewalk, unbeknownst to Drake.
Ultimately, because the property was found in the street, and was there by no clear voluntary act, it is likely that the court will treat the ring as being lost.
Lost property is property that is involuntarily left behind or misplaced. Finder of lost property takes the property with superior rights to all, except for the true owner.
Here, the ring was found on the street which creates a strong indication that it is lost. It is very unlikely that a piece of fine jewlery would be found on the street because of the voluntary acts of another. Additionally, because the ring fell out of the jacket pocket instead of being placed there, it will likely be categorized as lost property.
As lost property, Linda, as the finder, takes clear of all claims except from the true owner. As a result, Linda has no title to the property because James still retains title.
If James is informed of Linda's possession of the ring, he can file a detinue action to recover the ring from Linda, and should prevail.
July 2017 - QUESTION 6 – EXAMPLE ANSWER #2
(a) Prima Facie Case of Bailment for the Tuxedo
James is likely to prevail in his case against Cate's cleaners for the loss of the tuxedo because Cate's was the bailee of the tuxedo. To establish a prima facie case of bailment, James must prove that (1) he had an ownership right in the bailed property; (2) he transfered present possession of the bailed property to the bailee; and (3) the bailee knowingly accepted the bailed property from the bailor. A traditional bailment occurs in situations where personal property is transfered temporarily for some purpose with the intent of receiving the property back. A bailee has a legal duty to take care with regard to bailed property. If a bailee loses or destroys the bailed property, the bailee will be liable to the bailor for damages. Here, James took his tuxedo to the cleaners. In this case, James is a classic example of a bailor, and Cate's is a classic example of a bailee. This is because James gave his tuxedo, temporarily, to Cate's for the purpose of Cate's cleaning the tuxedo and with the expectation of James receiving a clean tuxedo back. Cate's accepted the tuxedo. The fact that Cate's forgot to give James a ticket for his tuxedo does not provide Cate's with a defense to the claim of bailment. Receiving a ticket is not an element of a bailment, and the ticket merely serves as proof upon production that a bailment existed. The facts as described are sufficient to prove a bailment without the ticket. Based on the above, Cate's will be liable for damages to James for accidentally allowing Drake to take Jame's tuxedo.
That said, James' claim for detinue is for $1,000; however, the tuxedo that Cate's lost was only worth $800. James cannot succeed in his claim for $1,000 because believing he should be compensated for his trouble in getting a new tuxedo is not a sufficient reason for an increase in damages beyond the value of the bailed property. As a result, James can recover $800, the value of the tuxedo.
(b) Prima Facie Case of Bailment for the Ring
James' claim against Cate's for bailment of the ring will fail because Cate's was not a legal bailee of the ring. The applicable law is primarily described above in Section A. A bailee of property does not also become a bailee for other property contained within the bailed property unless the bailor gives notice that the other property is present and the bailee accepts the bailment. Here, neither Cate's nor James knew that the ring was in the tuxedo pocket. As a result, Cate's was not a bailee of the ring because it had no notice that the tuxedo contained the ring.
(c) James' Appeal and Standard of Review
If James seeks an appeal in this case, the appeal will be properly before the 23rd Judicial Circuit in the Circuit Court for the City of Roanoke. General District Courts are courts of limited jurisdiction up to $25,000 in controversey. General District Courts share jurisdiction with Circuit Courts where the amount in controversy is between $4,500 and $25,000. All appeals from judgments rendered in General District Court are to the Virginia Circuit Court in the same jurisdiction. The reviewing Circuit Court hears the case de novo, which means that neither the legal nor the factual findings of the General District Court are binding on the Circuit Court.
(d) Linda's Rights in the Ring
Linda has no rights in the diamond ring beyond a present possessory right until she returns the ring to James. In general, found property can fall into one of three categories: lost property, mislaid property, or abandoned property. Property is abandoned where the prior owner of the property had an intent to dispose of it. Where property is abandoned, the rule of first capture determines ownership. Where property is lost (where the owner did not have an intent to abandon the property), the finder of the property acquires good title to the lost property against all except for the rightful owner of that property. Property lost on private property, however, results in the rights of the finder of the property becoming subordinate to both the property owner and the original owner. The original owner has superior title to the property owner. Property is mislaid where the property was discovered in a place where it appears that the property was merely misplaced as opposed to lost. Here, the ring is best categorized as lost property because it was found on the ground in public. Linda found the ring on a public sidewalk, which gave her superior title to the property over all but the original owner. When Linda appraised the ring, she discovered that the ring belonged to James. Linda is thus on notice that James has a superior claim of title to the ring. Therefore, Linda has a mere present possessory right in the ring as the finder until she is able to locate James and return the ring to him.