Stark v.Ford Motor Co. Case Study

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7-5. Product Misuse.

Five-year-old Cheyenne Stark was riding in the backseat of her parents’ Ford Taurus.Cheyenne was not sitting in a booster seat. Instead ,she was using a seatbelt designed by Ford ,but was wearing the shoulder belt behind her back .The car was involved in a collision.As a result ,Cheyenne suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down .The family filed a suit against Ford Motor Co., alleging that the seatbelt was defectively designed . Could Ford successfully claim that Cheyenne had misused the seatbelt ?Why or why not ?【Stark v.Ford Motor Co., 693 S.E2d 253(N.C.App.2010)](See Product Misuse.)

Do not simply answer the question in the textbook!

Here is the assignment:

You should assume this kind of fact situation occurred in Indiana in the present day and ultimately  resolve the problem using the law applicable today in Indiana.

You should discuss all reasonable theories from the textbook and your research that might apply, not just those discussed in the “real life” case.  If you believe one or more theories from the textbook do not work in Indiana discuss that in your answer.  If you believe that other theories not used in the real case might apply, please discuss those theories.

You should use the format and methodology in the “How to Solve Case Problems” handout.  You need not expressly answer the questions posed in the textbook, but only take those questions up as the issues arise in course of following the instructions.

First steps:
You should as suggested in the handout start out by consulting the text and the theories there to get ideas, and you may read the decision(s) in the real live case and see how it was actually resolved.  Then consult any other relevant Federal Law and  Indiana’s statutes and cases and analyze how the case would have been handled in Indiana.

You must solve this case using law that would apply in Indiana today.  You must discuss all possible theories that might apply.

The case problem in the textbook is based on an actual case cited in the statement of the problem so that case may be a good place to start, and many issues will be the same, but you must be careful to base your analysis on Indiana law.  So the procedure and the outcome may well be different, and other issues particular to Indiana will come into play.

Make sure when you state and rely on a principle of Indiana law that you cite relevant legal authority.  Make sure you explain the rights and duties of all people involved.  It’s potentially quite a mess!

Don’t expect clear cut answers!  The main priority is to show you can analyze the law, use research sources and that you can make arguments using the law.  Everything else should contribute to these priorities.  Don’t forget that!

How to write up your research:
You are to use the “How to solve Case Problems” methodolgy and format to address the problem.  An emphasis in this format is on the implications for business.  See the section below for some ideas in discussing these issues in part 6 of the paper.  For example, how should businesses change behavior based on potential liability.  How does Indiana law have implications for ethical and business policy decisions?

A few hints to make sure you have done the important things:

FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS
If you follow instructions you will probably do all of the rest.  The 6 steps in the handout should lead to a good answer.

FORMAT
This requires six numbered parts of the paper, or sections, with title on each, so it is easy to read.  Include a bibliography section with all your sources arranged by “type” of source.

Make a small table or chart in Part 1 to summarize who identify the potential parties and identify the main theories and defenses that are involved.  This tells the reader up front who is involved and arguing with who about what!  Include all important theories and defenses later discussed in depth in Part 2.

KEY POINTS TO COVER:
Each part of the paper accomplishes a goal and you are graded on that.  As you follow the instructions make sure you explore the following questions:

1. What possible theories apply? Include an discuss all possible theories from the text!  Who can be sued on what theories?  For each theory what appropriate defenses might apply?  How do these  theories and defenses apply in Indiana under these facts?  Have you looked for Indiana Statutes or other state statutes that might apply to the facts?  Where should we draw the line?  (See point 1 and point 2 in “How to solve Case Problems” syllabus materials.)

2. Have you discussed in some depth how the different theories work in general terms?  How each applies to this particular case? (Point 2 and 3 in Syllabus material on Case problems. )

3. Have you explained how each side would argue their case?  Have you included a statement for both sides on each theory “Why should this party get the result he wants in this case?” (Point 4)

4. Have you explained how each party’s results differs due to what theory is used?  Would damages be the same for each plaintiff and defendant?  (Point 5)

5. Evaluate Indiana’s answer to the problems. Consider questions like the following.  Should it be different?  What ethical issues exist for the various parties, who should be responsible?  What are the business implications?  What should society do to solve problems like this?  Should businesses in this situation be held responsible for harm?  Is liability law the best answer, is government regulation the answer? Should other theories (like Caveat Emptor) apply?  When?  Where do we draw we line?  Does Indiana have the law right? How do other states do it, and is that better?    How should business plan for these problems?  What are the plusses and minuses of each legal theory in how it would resolve the problem? (Point 6 in the syllabus instructions.)

Library Research:  You may want to review again the lecture on library research and review the Library website and other materials referenced there after you have done some preliminary work.  Please consult the research librarians.

GRADING: 
TThe paper will be worth 100 points.  Your grade will be determined on the following basis:

1. Identify all possible parties and the theories involved (Section 1) 10%

2. Explain all legal theories clearly and completely with authoritative research (Section 2) worth 20%.  Explain each theory!

3. Identify the key issues for each theory that will decide the case (Section 3) 10%

4. Discuss all these issues (Section 4) 10%.  Good arguments on both sides.  Every issue, every party and their arguments.

5. Decide each issue and each case, support your judgment (Section 5), 10%.  Good reason using case analogy essential.

6. Analyze consequences and ethical and legal policy issues for business.  Section 6, 20%.

7. Research required (evaluated by quality and amount). Bibliography and reasonably clear and proper citation, 20%.  (10 Bonus points are available for excellent performance in research and explanation of theory.  I know that is 110%.  Give me that effort    and you can earn 110 pts out of 100!!!)

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