How to talk the law... like a lawyer... and not a martian.

Today we have a question that demonstrates a common misconception about the practice of law and being a lawyer. One popular misconception has to do with the way we might describe the facts of the case. Practicing law isn't like taking a law school exam. Here see what I mean.

Question: Can you tell me what rule applies in this story?

Question Detail: Person A saw the bug and removed it from person B's plate. Person B got upset at person A and threw the plate at person A. However, person A, who is very fast, quickly ducked and dodged the plate, but the plate ended up hitting the person C. Because of this unexpected assault and battery person C's wife stood up and knocked out person B. In the course of physical fighting between person B and person C's wife, person D jumped in and maimed both of them to break off the fight. In this story, who gave damage to whom and what rule applies here? My co-workers think person A and person C can sue person B for damages. But I would like to know a lawyer's opinion.

Answer: Alright I will give you credit for trying, but this is not how to ask a legal question. It is not easy to be a skillful lawyer. Skill develops from years of being knocked around and being willing to learn from your mistakes. I realize it is clarity you wish to convey, but without other details the lettering system just doesn't add up to a legal solution. I need more information. You are missing some details that any good lawyer will want. 

Without knowing what was said and done and in the sequence it happened, I'd be guessing. As a for-instance, what caused B to react as they did to A? And were A and B horsing around or was B seriously trying to hit A? Did these parties know each other or of each other? What are their reputations around town and in the bar? Had anyone been drinking and if so how much? As a side note; Is D a southpaw and wow what a punch she has! Maybe she should be in cage fighting; which brings up another point. If D has that sort of power to do a KO on B, then where did D learn to throw a punch and what is her background in fight training? Are her hands registered, is she professionally trained (which might put her in another category with different liability) or is D just a B?

Okay, you get my point. While it may be an interesting story about what starts out with a bug and ends up with four people engaging in assault in some form or another, ultimately we need to be able to tell a story in a way that people will listen to us.

So let me try this.

Jack and Nancy sat down at a local restaurant to have a meal. Jack noticed a bug on Nancy’s plate and removed it. Nancy became upset and threw the plate striking another patron. Tanya, a person dining with the patron who was struck with the plate became enraged walked over to Nancy and punched her. Are Tanya and Nancy engaged in an assault and battery?

Final Answer: I think they are both guilty of assaultive behavior although one seems more civily liable than the other. Each towards the patrons they hit, the one with the plate and the other with her fist.

Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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