About Integrated Question Sets

Just under a quarter of the exam time will be devoted to integrated question sets. Each of these sets is based on a common fact scenario and may include some legal resources (e.g., excerpts of statutes or judicial opinions) and/or supplemental documents (e.g., a police report or excerpt from a deposition) and include a mixture of multiple-choice and short-answer questions. In addition to testing doctrinal law, some integrated question sets will be focused on drafting or editing a legal document; other sets will be focused on counseling and/or dispute resolution.

Below are two integrated question sets.

Integrated Question Set 1

Your law firm encourages you to take on pro bono cases. Recently, you agreed to take on a pro bono case through your local bar’s volunteer lawyers program in which you represent a tenant whose apartment has flooded. The following is an excerpt from your notes from the initial interview with the client:

Notes from the Initial Interview

During a recent hurricane, a lot of water entered the client’s apartment. The apartment has carpet throughout, which was completely soaked. The property manager refuses to do anything about the flooding and said that the lease the client signed makes this the client’s responsibility. The property manager also claims that the client did not take proper precautions before the storm, which made the flooding worse. The client disagrees. After the storm, the property manager recommended that the client buy a water pump and some fans to “dry things out.” The client tried this, but it didn’t fix the problem. The apartment is still wet and smells “unbearably bad.” The client can’t afford to try to fix it anymore. The client does not want to move but can’t keep on living in these conditions.

The client is in a month-to-month lease. The lease identifies the landlord as “Rentals LLC.” The lease was signed by both your client and the property manager, who signed as “the Managing and Sole Member of Rentals LLC.” The lease includes the following provision:

Condition of the Premises

Landlord (“Rentals LLC”) makes no covenants or warranties about the condition of the leased premises and disclaims all responsibility for the condition of the leased premises. Tenant agrees to be solely responsible for maintaining the condition of the leased premises. Tenant waives any and all rights to the contrary, including but not limited to a right to bring a claim related to the habitability of the leased premises.

The lease does not include any provision on what damages may be available in the event of breach. Your jurisdiction has a residential landlord-tenant statute that applies to the lease. The following is an excerpt from that statute:

6-20-5 Landlord’s Duty to Maintain Premises; Prohibited Conduct

(a) Subject to subsections (b) and (c), a landlord has a nonwaivable duty to maintain the premises in a habitable condition, including making necessary repairs. The duty includes but is not limited to a requirement that the landlord ensure that the premises . . . have effective waterproofing and weather protection of the roof and exterior walls, including windows and doors. . . . Tenants have a cause of action for breach of this duty, with remedies as set forth in § 6-20-10 [Tenant Remedies]. This cause of action supplants any common-law claims for breach of the landlord’s implied warranty of habitability.

(b) The landlord’s duty in subsection (a) is relieved if the uninhabitable condition of the premises was caused by an unreasonable act or omission of the tenant, the tenant’s immediate family member, or the tenant’s guest.

(c) If the premises are substantially damaged by a fire, other casualty, or natural disaster and continued occupancy of the unit is unlawful or dangerous or requires repairs that can be made only if the tenant vacates the premises, the landlord may terminate the lease by giving the tenant reasonable written notice.

(d) Any provision in a lease that purports to waive the landlord’s duty in subsection (a) is unenforceable. If the landlord seeks to enforce such a provision or accepts the tenant’s voluntary compliance with such a provision, the tenant has a cause of action in the amount of three times the periodic rent. This cause of action accrues irrespective of any claim the tenant may have for breach of the duty described in subsection (a).

Integrated Question 1

Which of the following is an accurate application of Section 6-20-5 to the facts? Select one.

    1. The section allows the landlord to enforce the lease provision, making the client responsible for repairs, but the tenant may seek damages of three times the periodic rent.
    2. The section makes the lease provision unenforceable but does not decide the issue of which party is responsible for which portion of the repairs.
    3. The section makes the lease provision unenforceable and makes the landlord responsible for the full extent of the repairs.
    4. The section does not decide the issue of the lease provision’s enforceability but establishes the landlord’s negligence per se.

Question 1 Answer

The correct answer is (B). Section 6-20-5(d) makes the lease provision unenforceable, but § 6-20-5(b) relieves the landlord’s duty to maintain the premises in a habitable condition if the uninhabitable condition was caused by an act or omission of the tenant or a tenant’s guest or family member. (A) is incorrect because, as noted above, § 6-20-5(d) of the statute makes the lease provision unenforceable. (C) is incorrect because the statute does not necessarily make the landlord responsible for the full extent of the repairs; as noted above, § 6-20-5(b) makes the tenant responsible in certain circumstances. (D) is incorrect because, as noted above, § 6-20-5(d) of the statute makes the lease provision unenforceable. Although § 6-20-5(a) establishes a landlord’s duty to provide habitable premises, it does not establish negligence per se.

Integrated Question 2

Section 6-20-5 of the statute does not define the term “habitable.” A partner at your firm has asked a law clerk to determine the jurisdiction’s meaning of the term for the purposes of potential litigation, and the law clerk has asked you for guidance.

Advise the law clerk on two specific legal sources that are the most likely to provide a controlling definition of the term “habitable.”

Question 2 Representative Correct Answers

  • State statute that defines the term as it is used in this statute, such as a “definitions” subsection within the same statutory scheme.
  • High court decision in this state interpreting “habitable” as it is used in this statute.
  • Appellate court decision in this state interpreting “habitable” as it is used in this statute.
  • State regulatory or administrative source if an administrative agency regulates the area and has provided a definition.

Integrated Question 3

You receive an email from your client. In the email, the client asks you “whether it would be a good idea to sue.” You begin your reply to the client by explaining that litigation will consume the client’s personal time and will almost certainly take longer to resolve than reaching a settlement before litigation. You consider what other risks your client would face in litigation.

Considering your client’s objectives and the applicable statute, describe two other potential risks of filing a claim or claims on the client’s behalf.

Question 3 Representative Correct Answers

  • The landlord may be able to use subsection (c) of the statute to terminate the lease, if it is necessary for the client to vacate in order to repair the flood damage.
  • Termination of the lease could also be a concern based on the month-to-month status of the lease (regardless of the statutory provision). Termination is a risk for this client even if the jurisdiction has a statute that prohibits a landlord from terminating in retaliation for filing a complaint.
  • Even if the client remains in the apartment, a lawsuit will further sour the client’s relationship with the landlord.
  • The landlord might counterclaim and allege that the client was negligent, which could open the client up to potential liability.
  • Litigation, particularly about your home, can be extremely stressful and frustrating.

Integrated Question 4

After discussing your research with the client and assisting the client in setting goals, you contact the property manager on the client’s behalf and attempt to negotiate a settlement. The property manager agrees to replace the carpet but refuses to refund any of the client’s past rent or to pay any of the client’s costs. Eventually, negotiations break down, and you prepare to draft a complaint on behalf of the client.

Which of the following facts provide the most support to a cause of action under § 6-20-5(d)? Select two.

    1. The lease provides that the client “waives any . . . right to bring a claim related to the habitability of the leased premises.”
    2. The apartment has an unbearably bad smell.
    3. The property manager claims that the client did not take proper precautions to prevent flood damage.
    4. The client bought a water pump and fans at the property manager’s recommendation.
    5. The client cannot afford to make any other repairs.
    6. The flooding was caused by a hurricane.

Question 4 Answer

The correct answers are (A) and (D). Section 6-20-5(d) states that any provision in a lease prohibited by subsection (a) is unenforceable. If the landlord seeks to enforce the provision or accepts the tenant’s voluntary compliance with the provision, the tenant has a cause of action in the amount of three times the periodic rent. (A) is correct because the lease’s inclusion of a provision that violates this statute is relevant to a request for damages under § 6-20-5(d). (D) is also correct because the fact that the client bought a water pump and fans at the property manager’s recommendation is evidence that Rentals LLC is seeking to enforce the prohibited provision. The client’s purchase of the water pump and fans at the property manager’s recommendation is relevant and supportive even if it is not dispositive. (B), (E), and (F) are incorrect because none of these options is relevant to the lease’s inclusion of a provision that violates the statute or Rentals LLC’s attempt to enforce the provision. (C) raises an issue that, if true, would be relevant but not favorable to the client. Partial credit is available for this question.

Integrated Question 5

Your legal research since the initial client interview supports a finding that the condition of the client’s apartment after the storm fell below the standard of habitability in the jurisdiction. In addition, your factual investigation has established the following:

  • There was nothing that Rentals LLC could reasonably have done to prevent the flooding from the hurricane.
  • The client spent money on fans and a water pump.
  • Since the client notified the property manager about the flood five months ago, the client has continued paying monthly rent in full.

List two claims you could bring on behalf of your client to seek the greatest possible damages for your client. For each claim, describe what remedy you will seek in the complaint. If the remedy is uncertain, describe the information you need to determine the appropriate remedy.

Question 5 Representative Correct Answers

  • Breach of § 6-20-5(a) – I’m going to need to determine remedies through the remedies provision. [We don’t know what it would cover, though possibilities could be the fans/pump and the rental value.]
  • Breach of § 6-20-5(d) – The remedy is three times the monthly periodic rent. I’m going to need to determine what the client’s monthly rent payment is.

Integrated Question 6

Your firm has had some experience with Rentals LLC. The company does not always show up in court to defend small claims against it, and you are concerned that it might be difficult to collect a future judgment against the company.

List two factual issues you could investigate to help determine whether the LLC’s veil can be pierced to collect a future judgment from the property manager personally. In your jurisdiction, the test for piercing the veil of an LLC is the same as the test for piercing the veil of a corporation.

For example, in a torts matter, a factual issue that might require investigation is “whether the plaintiff lost wages as a result of the accident.”

Question 6 Representative Correct Answers

  • Whether any commingling of the company’s assets and the property manager’s assets occurred.
  • Whether the company maintained adequate business records, to the extent the company was required to keep business records.
  • Whether the company disregarded legal formalities, to the extent that the company was required to follow formalities.
  • Whether the property manager was so inseparable from the company as to be its “alter ego.”
  • Whether the property manager used the company as an agent.
  • Whether the property manager intended to use the company to perpetrate a fraud.
  • Whether the company was undercapitalized.

New! Integrated Question Set 2

You are an associate in a law firm. Your supervisor has asked you to work on a case for a new client, a landscaping company who recently completed a major project for a homeowner and is now in a dispute with the homeowner over payment.  

Supervisor Email

The following is an excerpt from an email you received from your supervisor:

We have been unable to negotiate a settlement with the homeowner, so we will file a complaint on behalf of the client against the homeowner. A law clerk created a first draft of the complaint. I need you to make sure that all the language in the draft is factually and legally supported and that it complies with Franklin Rule of Civil Procedure 10(b). I am attaching a transcript of my interview with the client for your reference. 

End of excerpt 

Excerpt of Transcript

The following is an excerpt from the transcript of the interview with the owner of the landscaping company: 

[Supervisor]: Thank you for meeting with me today. My assistant told me that your company had a landscaping contract with a homeowner who is refusing to pay for the work. Did you bring the contract with you?

[Owner]: Actually, we had two contracts with this homeowner. I didn’t bring them with me, but I can drop them off at your office tomorrow.

[Supervisor]: That’s great. Let’s start at the beginning. What is the problem you’re having with the homeowner on the first contract?

[Owner]: This homeowner recently built a new house and wanted the backyard to be landscaped as a large entertainment space. There is a historic oak tree in the backyard, and she wanted it to be featured in the landscaping design. I visited the property and sketched a plan for the project that featured the oak tree, and then I drew up a contract and attached the landscaping plan as an exhibit. The homeowner signed the contract and paid $70,000 of the $140,000 contract price as a deposit before we started the work.

[Supervisor]: Did you complete the project as it was described in the plan?

[Owner]: Yes. I did everything the homeowner requested, but now she’s refusing to pay the remaining $70,000 because she thinks we did something to damage the oak tree. She says the tree looks sick and that it might be dying. I guess the workers could have damaged its roots, but then again, it’s a very old tree.  

[Supervisor]: Okay, that gives me a good start on the issues concerning the first contract. Now tell me about the second contract.  

[Owner]: After we started work on the project, the homeowner asked if we could add a large fishpond to the backyard. I said we could do it for $20,000. She agreed to that and I drew up another contract, which she signed. I billed her when we finished the work, but now she’s refusing to pay the $20,000 for the fishpond until we do something about the oak tree. 
 
End of excerpt 

Excerpt of Franklin Rule of Civil Procedure 10(b)

The following is an excerpt of your jurisdiction’s rule regarding the form of pleadings:

Franklin Rule of Civil Procedure 10(b)

(b) Paragraphs; Separate Statements. A party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances. A later paragraph may refer by number to an earlier paragraph in the same pleading. A later pleading may refer by number to a paragraph in an earlier pleading. If doing so would promote clarity, each claim founded on a separate transaction or occurrence—and each defense other than a denial—must be stated in a separate count or defense. 

End of excerpt 

Excerpt of Draft Complaint

The following is an excerpt of the draft complaint created by the law clerk in your firm:

[caption omitted]

COMPLAINT AND JURY DEMAND

. . .

Facts 

18. The initial contract signed by the homeowner included a landscaping plan.

19–29. [Properly pleaded facts related to the initial contract and work]

30. The scope of the work under the initial contract did not include construction of a fishpond.

31. While Plaintiff was completing work pursuant to the initial contract, Defendant requested that Plaintiff construct a fishpond; therefore, Plaintiff and Defendant entered into a second contract for the fishpond in the amount of $20,000.

32. Plaintiff completed construction of the requested fishpond on [date].

33. Defendant acknowledged that the fishpond was completed as requested.

34. When Plaintiff billed Defendant for the fishpond, Defendant stated that she would not pay for the fishpond.

35. Defendant has made no payment for this additional work.

Count 1: Breach of Contract (Initial Contract) 

36–47. [Properly pleaded claim for breach of the initial contract]

Count 2: Breach of Contract (Fishpond) 

48. Plaintiff incorporates by reference the allegations set forth above in paragraphs 30–35.

49. The parties formed a contract for Plaintiff to construct a fishpond and Defendant to pay $20,000.

50. Defendant breached the contract by failing to pay Plaintiff $90,000: $20,000 for the agreed-upon work on the fishpond in addition to the $70,000 still owed under the initial contract.

Demand for Jury Trial 

51. Plaintiff demands a trial by jury of all triable issues pursuant to Franklin Rule of Civil Procedure 38.

Prayer for Relief 

52. Plaintiff seeks an order of specific performance.

53. In the alternative, Plaintiff seeks an award of damages in the amount of: $90,000, and interest and costs.

End of excerpt 

Assignment

Following the instructions in the email from your supervisor, find five mistakes in the complaint. For each mistake, (1) identify the paragraph that includes the mistake, (2) describe the mistake, and (3) explain how you would correct the mistake.  

A mistake can be a mistake of fact, a mistake of substantive law, or a violation of the provided procedural rule. Missing information is not a mistake. Assume that the following are correct: (1) all bracketed material and (2) all formatting and numbering. 

Representative Correct Answers

  • Mistake: Paragraph 31 does not comply with Rule 10(b)’s requirement that “[a] party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances.” The paragraph includes two different circumstances: (a) the request for the fishpond and (b) the fishpond contract. Correction: Split this paragraph into two paragraphs that each address a single set of circumstances. 
  • Mistake: Paragraph 33 may misrepresent the facts. There is no indication in the file that the homeowner acknowledged that the fishpond was completed as requested. Correction: Delete this paragraph or suggest new wording that removes the incorrect/misleading language. 
  • Mistake: Paragraph 34 may misrepresent the facts. According to the interview transcript, the homeowner stated that she wouldn’t pay until the landscaper did something about the oak tree, not that she wouldn’t pay at all. Correction: This paragraph should be revised to ensure accuracy. 
  • Mistake: Paragraph 50 improperly includes damages related to the initial contract in violation of Rule 10(b). Correction: This paragraph should include only the owed fishpond payment of $20,000. 
  • Mistake: Paragraph 52 requests an award of specific performance, which is not available for this claim. Correction: This paragraph should be deleted. 
  • Mistake: Paragraph 53 aggregates the damages related to both the initial contract and the fishpond contract. Correction: For clarity, the prayer for damages should be split into two separate paragraphs: one focused on the initial contract and one focused on the fishpond contract. 

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