Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pop Quiz for Mean Mr. Mustard and She Says

Bacon keeps an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters in his basement, hoping one of the monkeys will come up with Hamlet. Bill Shakespeare, Bacon's buddy, comes over one day for dinner when several of the monkeys escape. As Shakespeare enters the yard, he sees on of the monkeys sitting by a wall, throwing rocks at another one. As he walks towards the door, another monkey sneaks up behind him and throws typewriter at the back of Shakespeare's head. when Shakespeare sues Bacon in strict liability, can Bacon successfully defend on contributory negligence grounds?

You can cite Prosser and Keeton on Torts as necessary.


MeanMrMustard said...
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MeanMrMustard said...

It is difficult to see in your factual presentation any basis for Shakespeare being contributorily negligent. Even if there were facts to support such a claim, there was no such defense to a strict liability claim in Elizabethan England.

On the other hand, Elizabethan England was notoriously bereft of typewriters, and had precious few monkeys, either. So Shakespeare might have difficulty establishing his prima facie case for damages.

If, however, we are to take as a given the facts as stated, Bacon's fat is in the fire. His best hope is that the monkeys will, instead of "Hamlet", write "Henry VI", resulting in the instantaneous death of all lawyers.