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Capacity and Legality | Law homework help

Case: Hypothetical and Ethical Dilemma

Before her recent accident, eighty-two-year-old Lily Ledbetter was her own chauffeur. She used to drive an automobile to fulfill her once-active senior lifestyle, including outings for bridge tournaments, water aerobics, grocery shopping, bill-paying, and family get-togethers.

One day, Lily decided to purchase a new automobile. Although her fifty-year-old son Ron suggested that he accompany her to the car dealership, she refused, reminding him that she was fully capable of taking care of her own responsibilities. With the “wind of independence at her back,” Lily entered the dealership, Bjorn Fjord Motors, alone.

After negotiating her best deal and signing a contract for the purchase of a new Fjord Mastodon sedan, Lily drove away in her rapidly-depreciating asset. Five miles down the road, the steering wheel detached from the steering column (the steering wheel literally came off in her hands) and Lily crashed into a culvert. She sustained severe personal injuries, including (but not limited to) a broken left leg, a broken pelvis, a collapsed lung, and numerous lacerations to her face. Her attending physicians agree that Lily will never be able to drive an automobile again.

Lily has since sued Fjord Motors, Inc. (the manufacturer of the sedan) and Bjorn Fjord Motors, Inc. (the dealership) for personal injury. Both companies have filed answers denying liability on the basis of an exculpatory clause included in Lily’s purchase contract. The exculpatory clause states that neither Fjord Motor, Inc. nor Bjorn Fjord Motors, Inc. is responsible to a customer or any other third party for a defect in the Fjord Mastodon that results in personal injury and/or economic harm. Both companies have also filed motions for judgment on the pleadings, requesting that the court summarily dismiss both causes of action against Fjord Motors, Inc. and Bjorn Fjord Motors, Inc. on the basis of the contract’s exculpatory clause.

Should the court grant the defendants’ requests for judgment on the pleadings? Is the exculpatory clause enforceable against Lily Ledbetter?


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