BUSINESS LAW CASE STUDY 1
Q1- Using the IRAC reasoning method, in whose favor do you think the judge would rule?
Answer 1: According to the IRAC method,
Issue- Anne Bakilana Tanzanian origin living in Washington DC, hired a house maid from Tanzania named Sophia Kiwanuka to come and work in the States. Kiwanuka claims that After coming to the States Bakilana confiscated Kiwanuka’s passport, held her in isolation and made her work for longer hours where she worked for 7 days a week without any breaks. In addition to that Kiwanuka also mentioned that she was threatened of deportation if not fulfilled the asks of Ms.Bakilana and was subjected to daily verbal and psychological abuse by Bakilana. These incidents lead to Kiwanuka’s allegations on Bakilana for causing intentional infliction to emotional distress.
Rule- Intentional infliction to emotional distress.
Analysis- Ms. Kiwanuka alleges that the defendant Ms. Bakilana subjected her to intentional infliction to emotional distress, the tort of Intentional infliction to emotional distress can be defined as an intentional act the defendant performed causing an emotional distress to the victim. In a reasonable way for the tort to apply it must follow these elements:
1) The defendant must act intentionally- This is observed when Ms. Kiwanuka stated that “Ms. Bakilana intentionally interferes in order to ensure that Ms. Kiwanuka doesn’t make any acquaintances”. Also Ms. Bakilana admitted that she had “developed a scheme taking advantage of Kiwanuka’s lack of knowledge in bank accounting to get a labor at lower rate than the legal minimum wage rate required” which is a violation to 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(c)(1)(a). See Kassem v. Wash. Hosp, 2008.
2) The defendant’s conduct must have been extreme or offensive- Ms. Kiwanuka mentions that Ms. Bakilana once lifted her by her collar while screaming at her, also Ms Kiwanuka mentions that Ms. Bakilana threatened to deport her if she did not work according to Ms. Bakilana’s will. The FBI investigated this matter when they got suspicion of trafficking, The FBI gave plaintiff a recording device which recorded her conversations with Ms. Bakilana, clearly proving that Ms.Bakilana was threatening Ms.Kiwanuka for deportation.
3) The conduct must be the cause for distress-Ms. Kiwanuka said that “Ms. Bakilana used her controlling position on Ms. Kiwanuka by involving into an intentional pattern of offensive verbal abuse thereby worsening the effect of distress and isolation”. See Deressa v. Gobena, 2006. Ms. Kiwanuka also mentioned that she had poor skills in English language and allegedly claims saying that “Ms. Bakilana being fully aware of this exploited her disability by intentionally mis-transalting information or keeping away some important information regarding the domestic works legal rights and information about her co-ownership bank account.
The defendant can use the case of Leavitt v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc,2003 as a reference, as it discusses a similar case where the defendant did not accommodate with the plaintiff’s disability and the court dismissed the motion because the defendant could not meet the standards of intentional infliction to emotional distress.
The evidences to the claims, i.e. Ms. Bakilana admitting to using Ms. Kiwanuka as a ‘prey’ for getting a labor at lower wage rate, then recorded conversation of verbal abuse and threat and taking in consideration some of the familiar cases mentioned, are sufficient to show that the tort applies, and Ms. Kiwanuka suffered emotional distress due to Ms. Bakilana’s conducts. Hence the judge will not dismiss the motion according to the defendant’s plea and will rule in favor of Ms. Kiwanuka.
Q2- What other claims can Sophia file against Anne? Explain the torts in detail and why Sophia would win.
Answer- With respect to the previous claim, Sophia can also claim for the following:
1) Breaching of the contract- Breaching contract is a civil crime, where one of the parties in a two-way agreement fails to honor the agreement. Ms. Kiwanuka can claim for breaching of contract because the contract mentions reasonable working conditions, we see that Ms. Kiwanuka alleges Ms. Bakilana for keeping her in isolation and making her work for seven days in the week without breaks, which means she worked more than 40 hours with no overtime pay, which is a violation to the Fair Labors Standard Act (FLSA), this shows that the working environment wasn’t very comfortable for the plaintiff. The contract also mentions decent pay and as mentioned in the statement of specified facts, Ms. Bakilana admits that “she made arrangements to prey upon Ms. Kiwanuka’s lack of knowledge about bank accountings to obtain a labor at rate way below the legally required wage rate”. Further to this Ms. Bakilana also admitted that Ms. Kiwanuka was a victim to the felony mentioned in 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(c)(1)(a) and according to that she owed a compensation of $41,6626.80 to Ms. Kiwanuka. There are evidences to prove that the contract was breached, hence Sophia can win this claim.
2) Assault- Assault is an act of intentionally threatening a person. Ms. Kiwanuka can claim for this tort because through the case we come to know that Ms. Bakilana would make her work longer and against her will by threatening to deport her. Reading the case in detail it was found that the FBI investigated the case, where they gave a recording device to Ms. Kiwanuka and it was recorded that Ms. Bakilana was threatening her of deportation. With the evidence in hand Ms. Kiwanuka can win this claim.
3) False Imprisonment- Can be defined as an unlawful detention of an individual without any legal justifications. In one of her complaints Ms. Kiwanuka states that her passport was confiscated, and she was kept in isolation right after she landed in the States. Ms. Kiwanuka also mentioned in one of her statements that “Ms. Bakilana would intentionally not let her make any acquaintances”. Hence Sophia can win the case as the elements can be proven.
Q3- What are the defenses of these claims?
The defenses for the claims mentioned above are:
1) Breaching of contract- The defenses to this offense are;
• The contract being no longer possible to fulfill, or its purpose has become frustrating e.g. if a man hired an interior designer to design his house based on a contract, and the house burns down before the task was performed so then the contract is no longer going to be fulfilled.
• If the contract lacks consideration, this means that when the contract seems to be less considerate or unfair towards the other party, for e.g. a contract between two co-owners of a company where one is investing and the other is not doing anything nor giving anything in return.
• If the contract is illegal, e.g. a contract made by a person for supplying illegal drugs to another person. As drugs are illegal the contract becomes illegal and hence can be used as a defense to breach of the contract.
• Contract containing mutual mistake, e.g. mutually two parties agreed to invest $1million each but the contract says $2million. This is the case where both the parties had intended to do something and in the contract by mistake there was something else stated.
2) Asault- There are usually two main types of defenses in an assault charge; a) Self-defense, here the defendant needs to prove that his action was a reaction to some sort of harm or threat he got from the other person in question and it was unintentional. b) Consent Defense- Here the two parties mutually agree to get involved in a particular activity, this will not hold one person liable for the assault, but if the act exceeds the mutual permitted time, then the offender can be punished.
3) False Imprisonment- The defense to this claim is that the defendant should be able to show that the victim cannot prove one of the elements. For example, here in this case if Ms. Kiwanuka is unable to prove one of her elements that would indicate she was falsely confined then the defendant can use this aa a defense to the claim.