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Jane T (LLC)
Jane T (LLC), Former straight A Student - Now Mom
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Experience:  Degrees in Eng., econ; JD (law), MBA, former valedictorian & winner of academic scholarship
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Hector Martinez, owns thoroughbred race horses.

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Facts: Your office's client Hector Martinez, owns thoroughbred race horses. Last week, Buzz Bumstead, stablehand whose primary duty is to clean the horse's stalls at minimum wage pay, was admiring one of the Hector's champion horses, Pokey. Pokey had won the Kentucky Derby and was a favorite to win the upcoming Preakness. After Buzz had asked some questions about the horse's breeding and age, Buzz asked Hector, "How much will you take for Pokey?" Hector smilingly replied, "I'll sell Pokey to you for $500." "All right", replied Buzz, I'll take Pokey." Buzz simultaneously handed Hector $500 in cash. Hector immediately gave the money back to Buzz saying, "I had no idea that you had so much money. This horse is not for sale. Pokey would bring at least $500,000 at an auction or on the open market. It's impossible for me to let you have Pokey for $500." Although Hector refused to accept the money from Buzz, Buzz insisted that there was a valid contract and that he had bought the horse. Buzz has retained counsel to assist in enforcing the "contract". Hector has consulted your law office to ascertain if there is a valid contract and how he can get out of transferring ownership of Pokey to Buzz. Your supervising attorney has given you the following project:
*List at least five issues that you would research;
*List at least five law books, series of law books, and/or Westlaw databases that you would consult in preparing the memo of law;
*Explain what information each of the law books, series of law books, or databases, that you mentioned in response to item 2, above, would provide you; and
*Finally, rank the order in which you would utilize the law books, series, or databases, that you mentioned in response to item 2 above, from 1 (the first resource that you would consult) to 5 (the last resource that that you would consult).

*List at least five issues that you would research;

To understand what one must research in a legal matter it is the facts of the case that need to guide any investigation. The issues in the case of course will center on what the two men said, what they did, and what happened. Clearly, the claim here is for a contract, that is what Pokey is suing for.

The first issue is contracts and the elements of a contract, as this is what Pokey is claiming.

Secondly, there is the more specific issue of whether there were a valid offer (from Hector) that Pokey could accept. So, what makes an offer valid would be a second issue.

Third, a subset of the second issue, but an issue to also be reviewed is whether there was a true intent to contract. How does one establish the existence of a true intention to enter into a valid contract? This is another issue to look into as the intention to contract must be present for there to be a valid contract.

Fourth, continuing with the third inquiry, knowing that the value of the horse is $500,000, could Hector's offer to sell the horse for $500 be enough to show an intention to enter into a contract?

Fifth, does the fact that Hector refused the payment make the contract, if one ever existed, voidable? Could Pokey claim promissory estoppel?

*List at least five law books, series of law books, and/or Westlaw databases that you would consult in preparing the memo of law;

American Law Reports (ALR)

Williston on Contracts

Restatement Second of Contracts

Westlaw database of All State Cases focusing on your state.

Westlaw's Keycite database

*Explain what information each of the law books, series of law books, or databases, that you mentioned in response to item 2, above, would provide you; and

The American Law Reports (ALR) books are a good place to start because they provide an overview of the law based on subject matter, such as contracts. ALRs also provide not only good discussions of the law, but they provide federal and state cases that have reviewed the issue of law to further provide new research topics and areas.

Another good research source, and one that can provide multiple discussions of all issues associated with a legal subject, such as contracts, would be a legal hornbook, such as Williston on Contracts which discusses all elements of a contract as well as all potential problems or issues that can arise where parties try to contract.

Likewise, the Restatement Second of Contracts, offers a very good education about contract law as well as what issues can exist and how they are normally resolved. It has a more modern review than Williston and can offer additional information that is not covered in Williston.

Once these general searches on the subject of law have been conducted it is a good idea to see what a state's law is on the subject. You indicate that the state is Kentucky, so you can look at the Westlaw database of All State Cases focusing on your state.

Lastly, once you obtained cases from the Westlaw database, you would need to research to see if these cases still offer good law, so you would need to look at Westlaw's Keycite database to review the cases and find other cases that help you prove your case.

*Finally, rank the order in which you would utilize the law books, series, or databases, that you mentioned in response to item 2 above, from 1 (the first resource that you would consult) to 5 (the last resource that that you would consult).

The books should be used moving from general to more and more specific so that first the general texts provide an base education on the subject (contracts, here) and then, as you learn more and more about the subject, you can more finely tune your research/education to more specifically address what you need. So, the order would be:

  1. Williston on Contracts
  2. American Law Reports (ALR)
  3. Restatement Second of Contracts
  4. Westlaw database of All State Cases focusing on your state
  5. Westlaw's Keycite database

I also provided some guidance on how to approach research and why to approach it in this way. Normally, each person develops their own preferred research method after following a guide such as this. Practice makes perfect and the more you do this the better it will be for you as it will teach you all you need to know.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

This is great! But, as a student in the second half of 14 week paralegal online class, how would I know how to find Williston on Contracts and Restatement Second of contracts. I have never heard of these before.

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