February 2018 Second Example Ten-point Answers to Virginia Essay Questions


      Travelco, Inc. (“Travelco”), is a Virginia corporation that provides passenger bus services along selected routes in Hampton, Virginia. One Friday afternoon in rush hour traffic, Travelco’s employee, Davis, was driving a company owned bus in the far right lane of a 4-lane street in Hampton, Virginia. Directly behind the bus, Paul was properly operating his vehicle on his way home.

      Davis had been 30 minutes late to work that morning and was still upset that his supervisor had docked his pay one hour. In order to make a wide right turn at the next intersection, Davis briefly entered the left lane before signaling to turn right. Paul, believing that Davis either was planning to turn left or proceed through the intersection, tried to pass Davis on the right.

      Paul was in Davis’ blind spot as Davis began his right turn. Consequently, Davis cut Paul off, striking the front left corner of Paul’s vehicle.

      Davis and Paul stopped, promptly exited their vehicles, and an argument ensued in which each blamed the other for the accident. Davis, who was angry at having his driving skills criticized and still upset about having been docked an hour’s pay, lost his temper and struck Paul, breaking his jaw.

      Davis then panicked, hopped on the bus, ordered all the passengers off, and fled in the bus toward his home to figure out what to tell his boss. Angry and distraught, Davis ran a red light and struck Winston as he was crossing the street, causing him serious injury.

      Paul has sued Davis and Travelco for compensatory and punitive damages arising from Davis’ battery of him.

      Winston has sued Davis and Travelco for compensatory damages arising from Davis’ negligence in hitting him with the bus.

  (a) Are Davis and Travelco, or either of them, liable for Paul’s injuries and compensatory damages? Explain fully.
  (b) Are Davis and Travelco, or either of them, liable for punitive damages? Explain fully.
  (c) Are Davis and Travelco, or either of them, liable for Winston’s injuries and compensatory damages? Explain fully.

February 2018 - QUESTION 5 – EXAMPLE ANSWER #1

A. Both Davis and Travelco are liable for Paul's injuries and compensatory damages.

Negligence. Negligence requires duty, breach, causation, and damages. Specifically, an individual or entity must have a duty to the public to act as a reasonably prudent person in the circumstances. This duty must be breached due to their conduct. The result of this breach must be proximate, or "but for," cause of the plaintiff's injuries. Finally, damages, which include compensatory damages, must arise.

Intentional Tort of Battery. The intentional tort of battery requires the intentional or reckless unwanted touching of another with the intent to harm.

1a) Davis will be held liable for negligently causing the car accident with Paul. Davis had a duty to engage in proper driving as a reasonably prudent driver. He breached that duty by cutting Paul off while driving. Davis could argue that Paul should be contributorily negligent due to his attempt to pass Davis' vehicle but the facts fail to include any metion of Paul's negligence. Accordingly, Davis' car wreck resulted in the damage to Paul's car.

1b) Travelco will also be held liable under agency principles for compensatory damages to Paul's vehicle. Under agency principles, a principal will be held liable for the negligent acts of its agents if they are performed withi the scope of its employment. To have a principal/agent relationship, the parties must assent to the agreement, the agent must work for the benefit of the principal, and the agent must agree to be controlled by principal. Moreover, this relationship is more concretely defined for employer/employee relationships under the doctrine of respondeat superior, but the facts fail to completely detail whether Davis was an employee of Travel Co.

Here, because Davis was acting within the scope of the agent/principal relationship by driving a bus for TravelCo., the business will be held liable for compensatory damages to Paul's vehicle.

2a) Davis will be held liable for Paul's injuries arising from the tort of battery. Davis intentionally struck Paul breaking his jaw. As a result, Davis will be liable for Paul's injuries.

2b) TravelCo will also be held liable for Paul's injuries. While TravelCo will argue that Davis' stopping the bus to punch Paul resulted in a "frolic" from which Davis exited the scope of employment, Virginia courts have held that an altercation resulting from a traffic accident remained within the scope of employment. Thus, TravelCo will be held liable for Davis' intentional tort of battery.

B. Neither Davis nor TravelCo will be held liable for punitive damages. Virginia courts extend a high bar for allowing punitive damages. Here, while Davis struck Paul, it occurred during a mutual argument for which no premeditated conduct flowed. As a result, it is unlikely that Davis will be held liable for punitive damages. Moreover, since TravelCo itself was not involved in the battery (although it could be held liable for it), it will not be held liable for punitive damages arising from Davis' conduct with Paul.

C. Only Davis will be held liable for Winston's injuries because Davis was engaging in conduct outside the scope of their principal/agent relationship. Akin to the first accident, Davis' accident results from the negligent conduct of Davis. As a side note, Davis' reckless conduct of running the red light may rise to the intentional tort of battery in which an individual may use an object to strike another's person. Nevertheless either way, Davis will be held liable for Winston's injuries and compensatory damages. Nevertheless, here unlike before, Davis had exited the scope of his principal/agent relationship by fleeing home. As a result, Davis' conduct is a "frolic" in which he engages in an independent journey rather than a mere detour. Accordingly, TravelCo will not be held liable for Winston's injuries and compensatory damages.

February 2018 - QUESTION 5 – EXAMPLE ANSWER #2

      5(a) - Davis and Traelco Liability for Compensatory Damages

      Davis and Travelco would both be liable to Davis for the damage to his car and any injuries sustained in the accident, but only Davis would be liable for the damage caused by punching Paul. The doctrine of respondeat surperior states that an employer will be held liable for the actions of their employees if they commit a tort while under their scope of employment. The scope of employment analysis depends on their job title, job description, daily duties, etc. Furthermore, an employer is typically not liable to a third party that is injured due to the intentional torts of its employee.

      Here, Davis drives a passenger bus for Travelco. At the time of the accident Davis was driving the bus for Travelco, thus his actions are covered under his scope of employment. Therefore, vicarious liability would apply to Travelco and they would be liable for damages caused by the accident. Next, angered by the incident and confrontation with Paul, Davis punched Paul in the face. Battery is an intentional tort that causes harmful or offensive contact of another person. An intentiional tort requires a voltional movement and the requistie intent. Davis intended to punch Paul and swung his fist stricking Paul in the face, thus he would be liable. At this point, Travelco would not be liable for damages caused by Davis’ punch since Davis is acting outside the scope of his employment and it is an intentional tort. Employers are generally not held liable for the intentional torts of their employees. Exceptions apply if the nature of the employment is violent or dangerous. Travelco may also assert that Paul was contributory negligent in trying to pass Davis and that since he was negligent as well, under VA law, his claim should be denied under the theory of contributory negligence.

      Thus, a court would likely hold Davis, but not Travelco, liable for damages arising from Davis’ battery of Paul.

      5(b) - Punitive Damages

      A court would likely find that neither Davis nor Travelco are liable for punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the defendant/tort feasor has shown a great disregard for human life, fraud, acted with a requiste evil or ill intent, etc. and the court finds that punitive damages would help ensure that the defendant/tort feasor would be less likely to recommit such an act. It also helps to establish a standard to prevent other people from enaging in such behavior. Here, none of the facts indicate that this is a case that arises to award punitive damages in VA. While Davis’ actons were harmful, it only arises to an intentional tort that can be compensated through a traditional tort claim. Further, it is a simple battery that was not based off ill intent or a broader design to cause harm, thus there is no inherent beneift for the court to award further punitive damages when Davis will be liable for compensatory damages. Thus, a court will most likely decline to hold Davis or Travelco liable for punitive damages.

      5(c) - Liability for Winston’s Injuries

      Similar to 5(a), Davis would be held liable to Winston, but Travelco would most likely not. As stated in 5(a), vicarious liability attaches to employers when their employees commit torts under their scope of employment. Here, Davis is angry and jumps on the bus driving towards his home and is trying to figure out what to tell his boss. The plaintiff would most likely argue that Davis is still under his scope of employment since he is driving the bus and on the way to his home when he struck Winston. If I was representing Travelco, I would argue that Davis interuppted his job duties and severed his scope of employment when he ordered everyone off the bus and fled the scene of a crime. While tort law notes frolic and detours, here Davis’ actions are not covered and should not hold Travelco liable. A frolic or detour does not sever the liability of an employer since the trip is a simple deviation of the job duties or role, in this case I would argue that that does not apply since Davis is not simply on a detour or frolic, he is fleeing the scene of an accident after committing an intentional tort.

      Furthermore, Davis was negligent in running the red light and striking winston. Negligence requires duty, breach of duty, causation (actual and legal), and damages. Davis has a duty to operate his vehicle safely on the road way, he breached this duty by running the red light, his running the red light was the actual cause of the accident with Winston and it was the legal cause too, lastly it causes injuries to Winston and resulted in damages. For an event to be a actual cause you must apply a “but-for” test. Here, but for Davis’ negligence the accident would not have happend. Legal cause exists on foreesability. It is foreseeable tht civilians would be walking through a crosswalk at a redlight. Thus, all elements are present. The only defense would be WInton’s contributoty nelgientce.

      However, a court would likely find Davis liable, but not Travelco for Winston’s injuries.