Bar Exam Tips and Practice Question: Intentional Torts

Bar Exam Tips and Practice Question: Intentional Torts

Intentional Tort Question

A wife and husband bought a new home with a huge yard and tennis court. The wife was an avid tennis player who had always wanted to teach her husband to play. The husband, who has never excelled at sports, was skeptical but willing to give it a try.

The husband hit a ball over the fence, through a stand of tall pine trees and into the yard of their next-door neighbor. The neighbor was in her garden cutting roses for a flower arrangement at the time the tennis ball entered her yard. The ball landed in a nearby birdbath, splashing the neighbor with water. Because the neighbor did not see the ball coming, the water startled her, causing her to drop her clipping shears onto her foot, which bruised her big toe.

If the neighbor sues the husband for trespass, which is the most accurate statement of their liability?

(A) The husband is liable for the physical invasion of the neighbor’s land by his tennis ball.

(B) The husband is not liable for trespass, because the neighbor should have reasonably anticipated that tennis balls from a nearby tennis court would enter her yard.

(C) The husband is not liable for trespass, because he did not intend to cause the tennis ball to enter the neighbor’s yard.

(D) The husband is not liable for trespass, because the tennis ball did not unreasonably and substantially interfere with the neighbor’s use and enjoyment of her land.

Take a minute to work the problem, then take a look at a few tips to help with bar exam success followed by the explanation to the practice question.

 

5 Tips to Increase Success on the Bar Exam

  • 1. Understand the Bar Exam

    One of the MOST important things you can do is to “see the big picture”. Understand how to conquer the task you are about to undergo. There is NOTHING like taking your first bar exam. So often, you hear professors and law school deans talking about the bar exam, but dig deep and find out what is on the state bar you plan to take. Passing the bar exam is your ultimate goal and it is the most important hurdle to overcome before beginning your legal career.

    Each state has specific subjects tested on their state bar. Research what subjects are tested on YOUR state bar exam, and be sure to take as many of these subjects as possible during law school. It is not necessary to take every subject on your state bar exam before graduation, but advanced exposure to as many subjects as possible is helpful. The difficulty level can vary depending on the subject, too. (ex: secured transactions vs. family law) So, when making decisions about which electives you should take, consult your Kaplan director. They can point you in the right direction.

  • 2. Take the MPRE During Law School

    The MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam) is a prerequisite to becoming a licensed attorney in most states. Register to take the MPRE exam during law school. Do not wait until after taking the bar exam. Research how long your MPRE score is valid for the state bar you plan to take. This information is available on each state bar examiners website.

  • 3. Start Your Bar Application Early

    Often, the bar application process is daunting and tedious. The bar examiners will often require background checks, criminal history, employment history, fingerprints…and the list goes on. Don’t be caught at the eleventh hour waiting for extrinsic information.  Print a copy of the most recent bar application for your state from your state bar examiners website. Read through the entire application. Gain an understanding of what you need and begin compiling the information early. This will take away stress and make certain you are not subject to late fees from you bar examiners.

  • 4. Begin Early Preparation for the Bar Exam

    Your success on the bar exam should not begin two months before taking the bar. Take advantage of early start programs. These programs focus on MBE subjects, which are the largest and most voluminous on the bar exam. The MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) currently consists of Criminal Law/Procedure, Real Property, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Evidence, Federal Civil Procedure and Torts. Review lectures and start completing practice MBE style questions during your final semester of law school. Starting a substantive review of the MBE subjects is going to make your studies during the bar course much smoother, less stressful and ensure your success on the bar the first time!

  • 5. Talk to People Who Have Recently Taken the Bar Exam

    The bar exam, like most things in life, can be explained best by someone who has experienced it. Reach out to someone who has recently taken the bar exam. Their advise and guidance will be invaluable. We all learn at a different pace and we all have different strong/weak subject areas. But, going back to the basics of what you need for bar exam success, it is always beneficial to hear advise from someone who already has the bar under their belt. Most will be happy to share and often will have a good story to tell, too!

Explanation

The correct answer is: (C) The husband is not liable for trespass, because he did not intend to cause the tennis ball to enter the neighbor’s yard.

The tort of trespass to land is defined as an intentional physical invasion of the plaintiff’s possessory interest in land caused by the defendant. The defendant does not have to enter onto the land; a defendant may be liable for trespass if he causes a physical object to go onto the land. In addition, no actual injury to the land is required. However, intent is required. Under the facts presented, the wife and the husband are not liable for trespass, because they did not intend to cause the tennis ball to enter the neighbor’s yard. Thus, this is the best answer.

(A) Incorrect. The husband is liable for the physical invasion of the neighbor’s land by his tennis ball.

The wife and the husband will not incur liability merely because their tennis ball physically invaded the neighbor’s yard. The tort of trespass to land is defined as an intentional physical invasion of the plaintiff’s possessory interest in land caused by the defendant. The defendant does not have to enter onto the land; a defendant may be liable for trespass if he causes a physical object to go onto the land. In addition, no actual injury to the land is required. However, intent is required, and the facts do not indicate that the wife and the husband intended for their tennis ball to enter the neighbor’s yard.

(B) Incorrect. The husband is not liable for trespass, because the neighbor should have reasonably anticipated that tennis balls from a nearby tennis court would enter her yard.

Whether or not the neighbor could reasonably anticipate that tennis balls would enter her yard is not an issue in relation to the intentional tort of trespass to land.

(D) Incorrect. The husband is not liable for trespass, because the tennis ball did not unreasonably and substantially interfere with the neighbor’s use and enjoyment of her land.

This answer choice states the grounds for liability in a nuisance action, not an action for trespass to land.