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Professors Having Fun

Juan Non-Volokh presented exams that had pop culture references inserted into the facts.  Amber Taylor thinks "it's cute especially when they get the terminology right."

I think the master of the "pop culture exam" is Prof. Roger Alford, whom my wife had for Contracts.  He would wind the lyrics from popular songs into the fact pattern.  With great sucess.  He was so good at inserting the lyrics that his students begged him to stop, since his exams caused them to have songs buzzing in their heads during the exam. 

Here is one of his best pop culture exams:

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly. He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye. He waited his whole life to take that flight, and as the plane crashed down he thought “Well isn’t this nice. . . Isn’t this ironic.”

Two years later, in early February 2000, Alanis, the executrix of the estate of Mr. Play It Safe, contacted Ironic Airlines and threatened to sue for wrongful death, negligence, and breach of implied warranty of merchantability. Ironic responded with an offer to settle the case quietly for $1 million provided she accepted the offer within thirty days. The general counsel for Ironic was an old man who just turned ninety-eight. After he made the offer to settle he died the next day. Alanis contacted her attorney to tell him the news. She said “Isn’t it ironic?” He said, “Yeah, a little too ironic.”

The statute of limitations for her claims was set to expire on March 2. Over drinks, Alanis and her attorney discussed her options. He strongly advised Alanis to sue Ironic Airlines and gave her a copy of his draft complaint. Alanis said she had agonized over this for days but had decided to accept the settlement and forego filing her claims. Just as she finished speaking he noticed something ominous. He said, “Is that a black fly in your Chardonnay?” She said, “Well isn’t that ironic.” He said, “Yeah, a little too ironic.”

On March 2, she left a telephone message with Ironic stating that “she really appreciated the offer because life has a funny way of helping you out when you think everything’s gone wrong but now I know everything’s gonna be okay.” She then listened to her voice messages. One message was from Ironic calling to inform Alanis that “given her recent action it just mailed her a letter formally revoking its offer.” Dazed and confused, and with only one hour to file her claim, Alanis dashed to her car. She hit a traffic jam but she was already late. She arrived at the courthouse and started banging on the door. The security guard said “I beg your pardon ma’am but you’re two minutes too late.” She said, “Isn’t it ironic?” He said, “Yeah, a little too ironic.”

In tears, Alanis went back to her attorney and explained the situation. He said, “I gave you good advice that you just didn’t take.” She said, “Who would’ve thought . . . it figures.” But then the attorney paused for a minute and said, “You know, life has a funny way of helping you out when you think everything’s wrong and everything’s blown up in your face. You may have a contract here after all.” After explaining his reasoning to her he said, “Oh, and by the way, I filed the case for you this morning. Just in case. Now isn’t that ironic?” She said, “Yeah, I really do think.”

Is the attorney correct that Alanis has a contract?