Torts MBE Tip of The Day
Welcome to our MBE tip of the day series. This “MBE tip of the day” post focuses on torts.
You will see 25 scored torts MBE questions on the Multistate Bar Exam. In this post, we will review a torts question together. Note that we have posted several MBE tips (which you can find links to at the bottom of this post) that focus on a specific multiple-choice question that many students answer incorrectly. If you can master these questions, it could increase your MBE score by that many points if you see any of these issues tested again (which, by the way, you will!). These posts of MBE tips and tricks will not only cover substantive law but also strategy. So each “MBE tip of the day” post covers one highly-tested area of substantive law as well as an important MBE strategy. You can sign up to receive these posts directly to your inbox for the upcoming administration at the bottom of this page.
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MBE Tip of the Day Instructions:
Do your best to answer this torts MBE question (before even looking at the answer choices and before looking at the answer below!) Ask yourself: What is the subject? What is the legal issue? What is the rule, analysis, and conclusion? Try to answer these beginning questions before even reading the answer choices. Then, uncover the answer as well as read more about our MBE tip of the day.
Show the MBE Question...
Torts MBE Question
A friend dared a woman to see how long she could remain hidden in a department store without being caught. The woman wanted to see if she could remain in the store past closing time, and then sneak out just before the last person left. As closing time approached, the woman went to hide in a dressing room. Unknown to her, there was a security camera recording the room and she was always visible to the camera.
While waiting for her time to escape, the woman fell asleep. In the meantime, all of the employees left the department store. The security guard closed and locked all of the doors. When the woman woke up, it was the middle of the night and she panicked. She checked all of the doors but found no escape. She remained in a state of panic for the rest of the night. Finally, she escaped when the first employee arrived to open the store in the morning. The woman filed a claim of false imprisonment against the security guard.
Which of the following facts, if established, would be most helpful to the woman’s claim?
(A) It was foreseeable that someone could be hiding in the dressing room at closing time.
(B) The guard reviewed the security cameras footage before leaving and saw the woman.
(C) The woman had no malicious intent in remaining in the store.
(D) The woman injured her arm as she was trying to escape through the locked doors.
Legal Rule and Analysis:
Choose an answer choice that most closely matches your conclusion and explain why the others are incorrect:
Show the Answer to the MBE Question...
Answer to the Torts MBE Question
Legal Issue: False Imprisonment
Legal Rule and Analysis:
False Imprisonment is an intentional tort. It occurs when the defendant acts with the intent to confine or restrain the plaintiff to a bounded area, actual confinement occurs, and the plaintiff knows of the confinement or is hurt by it. With intentional torts, the key is to look at the defendant’s mental state. The defendant must act with the intent to bring about the specific result. If there is no intent, then the defendant cannot be guilty of the tort.
Here, it is clear the woman has been confined to the department store and she knows about it. She’s checked for any method of escape and she can’t find any. The actual confinement and knowledge of the confinement elements are met. What we do not know is if the security guard acted with the requisite level of intent.
The facts don’t give any indication that the guard intended to lock all of the doors and trap the woman there. If the guard had no idea that the woman was there, then the guard could not be guilty of false imprisonment. However, if the woman could prove that the guard knew of her presence, this would go a long way to bolstering her claim. If the guard reviewed the security cameras, and saw her, this would allow her to infer that the security guard acted with intent when he locked the doors if he knew that there was someone still in the dressing room.
Conclusion: If the woman can establish that the security guard checked the cameras before locking the doors and leaving and saw her, this would support her case as it would help her prove that the guard acted with the intent to confine her.
Look at the answer choices provided. Choose an answer choice that matches your conclusion. Review the other answer choices provided.
The answer choice (B) is therefore correct. (A) is incorrect because the foreseeability of someone remaining in the dressing room does not matter for a false imprisonment claim. Foreseeability is more relevant to a claim of negligence as opposed to the intentional tort of false imprisonment. (C) is incorrect because establishing the woman’s intent in being in the store does not help her claim as her intent is immaterial in a false imprisonment case. (D) is incorrect because the woman does not need to be physically harmed in order to succeed in a false imprisonment claim.
MBE Tip: Use the cause of action stated in the call of the question to eliminate incorrect answer choices. When the relevant claim at issue is stated, you can eliminate answer choices that utilize the improper standard. Each category of tort (negligence, intentional tort, strict liability, etc.) has its own standard that the facts will be analyzed under, with certain key legal phrases being relevant. If an answer choice seems to be analyzing the facts under a standard not relevant to the claim mentioned in the fact pattern, you can immediately eliminate that choice!
Show Summary of the Two Key Takeaway Points for the Day
Key Takeaways and MBE Tips From Prior Posts
Takeaway for the Law: To succeed on a false imprisonment claim, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant acted with the intent to confine or restrain the plaintiff to a bounded area.
MBE Tip: Use the cause of action stated in the call of the question to eliminate incorrect answer choices.
If you would like to see “MBE tip of the day” posts from prior days, please click on the links below:
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