Closed Memo in Law

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Introduction to U.S. Law, Legal Writing and Research

Fall 2012

Closed Memo Assignment

The closed memo assignment is attached to these instructions.

You may only use the research materials listed at the end of the problem. You can retrieve these materials from Westlaw or Lexis, or you can use them in print.

Your memo should be approximately 4 to 6 double-spaced pages in length.

Submit the assignment anonymously via the assignment drop box on TWEN no later than the beginning of class on Oct. 16.

Closed Memo Assignment

Due Oct. 16, 2012

The Wedding Dress

You are an associate in the law firm of Baxter, Jones, and Cevallos. Your firm represents Maria Manning, who complains that Sally Singer, a seamstress, breached her contract with Manning to deliver ten made-to-measure dresses to be used in Manning’s wedding ceremony in Tucson, Arizona.[1] One of the dresses was for Manning herself, and the remaining nine were for her nine bridesmaids.

The following is a transcript of a meeting that your supervisor, partner Jill Baxter, had with your client, Maria Manning. You sat in on the meeting, but did not say anything.

Baxter: Ms. Manning, thank you for coming in today. As you know, this discussion is privileged under state law, and protected from disclosure. My understanding is that you wish to sue Sally Singer for breach of contract.

Manning: Yes

Baxter: What agreement did you make with Sally Singer?

Manning: I hired Sally Singer to sew my wedding dress and nine matching bridesmaids’ dresses.

Baxter: When did you hire Ms. Singer?

Manning: On April 20 of this year, I called Ms. Singer and set up an appointment to discuss making the dresses. We agreed to meet on April 23. On that day, my bridesmaids and I met with Singer and gave her the material for the dresses. She took our measurements, and agreed to make the ten dresses we needed.

Baxter: Did you tell Singer when you wanted the dresses completed?

Manning: Yes, I told her the dresses had to be completed before my wedding, which was set for 1:00 p.m. on July 17. Also, in May, I sent her an invitation to the wedding, to which she did not respond.

Baxter: Did you have any meetings with Singer before the wedding ceremony?

Manning: Yes. On June 10, my bridesmaids and I met with her for the final (and only) fitting.

Baxter: How did the dresses look on June 10?

Manning: At that time, none of the dresses were finished or even wearable.

They weren’t stitched yet and were held together by pins.

Baxter: Did you talk to Singer at any other time before the wedding?

Manning: Yes. In May and June, I talked with her on the telephone. She told me that she was making normal progress on the dresses. In June, she told me the dresses would definitely be ready on time. In early July, I spoke with her again, and she told me she was putting the finishing touches on them, and that they would be ready the morning of the wedding. I was worried about having to wait that long, and told her that we were eager to see the dresses. Singer reassured me again and said that she never lets the clients see her work until the last stitch is in place.

Baxter: What happened when you went to pick up the dresses on July 17?

Manning: At 9:00 a.m., the bridesmaids and I went to Singer’s shop to pick up our dresses. Singer told me the dresses were nearly ready and that we should all wait for them in the back of the shop. The back of the shop was full of half-finished clothes, sewing machines, and a torn, dirty, old sofa. It was very uncomfortable there for the ten of us, and I missed having my hair, nails, and makeup done at the beauty salon. I was really stressed-out.

Furthermore, I did not get my wedding dress until 12:30 p.m. This made me late for my wedding, and I did not arrive at the church until 1:10 p.m. By then, I was ill with anxiety from all the waiting. Also, when I left Singer’s shop, I knew my bridesmaids had still not received their dresses and I was worried about them and the ceremony. Five of the bridesmaids finally arrived at the church at 1:30 p.m. with their dresses, but none of them were in time to walk down the aisle with me. I cried before and during the ceremony because of all the problems with the dresses.

Baxter: How did the five bridesmaids’ dresses look?

Manning: They looked terrible. The sleeves were short and straight instead of puffed, as they were supposed to be, and the dresses didn’t fit right. Some were too tight, and some were too loose.

Baxter: Were any of these five bridesmaids able to participate in any part of the wedding ceremony?

Manning: By the time they arrived at 1:30, the ceremony had already started, so they could not walk down the aisle with me. But they were able to stand by my side for the rest of the ceremony. The other four bridesmaids never made it to the church at all, because Singer kept them waiting, telling them over and over again that their dresses were neatly finished. Two of the bridesmaids who missed the ceremony entirely were supposed to recite prayers at the service. When I realized that they weren’t there, I started crying again

Baxter: Did Singer ever finish these four bridesmaids’ dresses?

Manning: No, they remained in the same condition as they had been during the June fitting, and the bridesmaids refused to take them.

Baxter: Did these four bridesmaids ever make it to any part of the wedding?

Manning: They never made it to the church, so they missed the ceremony entirely. But they did come to the reception that evening, though in casual clothes. All nine bridesmaids participated in the wedding reception champagne toast, dance, and dinner, but the four bridesmaids who wore casual clothes felt embarrassed and humiliated by their inappropriate attire.

Baxter: Why do you think Singer did not finish the dresses?

Manning: I think that Singer intentionally ruined the wedding because she broke up last year with the man who is now my husband. But I did not know this until after the wedding. Her failure to finish the dresses properly caused me a lot of pain and embarrassment. It was supposed to be a grand wedding. We had planned it for months, and it turned out to be a big mess.

Your supervisor, .Jill Baxter, intends to explore various potential claims, including breach of contract, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. But she wants you to assume that she can establish the contract claim and only the contract claim. She wants you to analyze whether Manning can recover damages for emotional distress under her claim of breach of contract against Singer. She knows that she can recover damages for other kinds of losses stemming from the breach, but she thinks damages for emotional distress may be problematic. Using ONLY the following research materials, prepare an office memorandum, four to six pages in length, discussing this question. You may assume that the contract between Manning and Singer is an enforceable contract governed by Arizona law. Use standard citation form. You need cite only to the regional reporters. Do not give parallel citations.

Research Materials

1. E. Allan Farnsworth, Contracts § 12.17 at 840 (3d ed. 1999).

§ 12.17 Other Limitations, Including Emotional Disturbance . . .

A limitation more firmly rooted in tradition is that generally denying recovery for emotional disturbance, or “mental distress,” resulting from breach of contract, even if the limitations of enforceability and uncertainty can be overcome. It could be argued that the real basis of this rule is that such recovery is likely to result in disproportionate compensation, and that the rule could therefore be subsumed under the more general rule of the Restatement Second of Contracts § 351(3). Whatever the basis of the limitation, courts have not applied it inflexibly. Some courts have looked to the nature of the contract, and made exceptions where the breach was particularly likely to result in serious disturbance. . .

2. Browning v. Fies, 58 So. 931 (Ala. Ct. App. 1912).

3. Farmers Ins. Exch. v. Henderson, 313 P.2d 404 (Ariz. 1957).

4. Fogleman v. Peruvian Assoc., 622 P.2d 63 (Ariz.Ct.App. 1980).

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