Familiarity with the elements of negligence is crucial to the personal injury paralegal’s knowledge base. Also important to any paralegal’s tool box of skills are legal research and writing. The following scenario will help you exercise those skills by applying what you have learned in this week’s lectures and materials.
A state statute allows handgun owners to carry concealed handguns on the condition that the handgun owners obtain a permit from the county sheriff for the county in which they reside. The sheriff is prohibited from issuing a permit for a period of three days after receiving the application. Sheriffs cannot issue a permit to a minor, a felon, or a person who is or has undergone treatment for any psychiatric condition.
Alan Allen, aged 32, applies to the sheriff for a permit. He and the sheriff are friends, so the sheriff issues the permit without waiting three days or asking Allen if he has or is undergoing treatment for any psychiatric condition. In fact, Allen has been treated for severe depression and currently is taking medication for the same. Allen goes to a local tavern for a drink, gets into a fight with Chuck Charles, and pulls his gun, intending to frighten him. The gun fires, hits and shatters a bottle behind the bar, sending shards of glass flying. A piece of glass lodges in Chuck Charles’ eye, blinding him in one eye.
Draft an internal memorandum on the case to your attorney using Westlaw to find primary sources of law, such as cases and statutes on point. You can use the law of your state, even if it differs somewhat from the fictitious state statute mentioned in the fact pattern. Cite all sources using the Bluebook format. Address in the memo the following questions:
- Are the sheriff’s actions negligent?
- If so, is that negligence the proximate cause of Charles’ injury?
- Was it foreseeable that the sheriff’s failure to question Allen on his psychiatric history would result in the injury to Charles?
- What is sovereign immunity, and will it offer any protection to the sheriff?