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Friday, June 6, 2014

Seinfeld and Torts Review

Over at the Faculty Lounge, Wes Oliver discusses how clips from episodes of Seinfeld may be used to teach various areas of criminal law. He wonders whether Seinfeld episodes can be used in other ways to teach legal concepts.

I have just finished up Kaplan's torts lectures for bar review, and I remembered that some scenes from Seinfeld may be useful tools for reviewing tort law concepts. The famous Soup Nazi episode contains a side-plot where Kramer is charged with watching an armoire, but he is intimidated by two men who end up carrying it away. This clip could be used to illustrate conversion, as the armoire is never returned.

For those looking for an issue-spotting exercise, I recommend this scene from the episode, The Statue, where Kramer impersonates a police officer in order to recover a statue that he believed had been stolen from Jerry. While it is little more than a minute long, the clip and its context involve an impressively high number of intentional torts.

I have listed some of the torts that could be addressed in this video below in white -- highlight the space below to see some of the issues I've spotted so far.

Battery, Assault, False Imprisonment (under false impression of legal authority), Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Trespass, Trespass to Chattels, Recapture of Chattels, Conversion, Slander (if neighbors heard, which is probably reasonable to expect)

For those who are interested in law and Seinfeld, this older post from the Volokh Conspiracy summarizes a seminar on the various legal lessons that episodes of Seinfeld raise, and the blog Seinfeld and the Common Law (with posts here and here) has more in-depth discussion on the legal implications of Seinfeld episodes.

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