Short Answer Question Sample
INDIANA SHORT ANSWER EXAM – JULY 2020
A drug task force was surveilling a suspected methamphetamine dealer’s house. One of the police officers observed a car arriving. The driver of the car went inside the house for approximately one minute, exited, and then drove away. The observing officer followed the driver, and after the driver failed to signal a turn, the officer pulled the driver over. Hoping to discover illegal drugs, the officer approached the vehicle, told the driver he wanted to check the driver for weapons and asked the driver to exit the vehicle. When the driver exited the car, a closed small tin box bearing the brand name of a type of throat lozenge, fell onto the street. The officer picked up the box, lifted the lid, and found six grams of methamphetamine.
Analyze and explain whether the police officer lawfully stopped the vehicle. Analyze and explain whether the police officer could lawfully search the driver for weapons. Analyze and explain whether the police officer had the proper authority to open the tin box.
The officer had the authority to pull the driver over. Because an infraction happened in the presence of the police officer (failing to signal a turn), the stop was lawful. It does not matter that the reason for the stop was to discuss the suspected drug transaction and that the proffered reason for the stop was pretextual.
The police had a right to conduct a weapons search under Terry in order to protect officer safety. Since the driver was coming from a suspected drug house, the officer had reasonable suspicion that the driver might be armed. The standard is very low to conduct a Terry search, which is limited to patting down the outer clothing for weapons. Even though the driver was in a car, the police still had the authority to ask him to get out of the car and be subject to the pat-down search.
The officer likely did not have the authority to open the tin box. In order to conduct a lawful search, a warrant is required by the Fourth Amendment unless an exception applies. Exceptions include a search incident to arrest, an inventory search, or exigent circumstances. The plain view doctrine requires that the unlawfulness of the item be readily apparent. The tin box in and of itself is not criminal in nature. Thus the officer had no basis to open up the tin box. The only possible argument, which seems a remote possibility, is that the tin box could have contained some kind of a weapon like a razor blade.
Charlie operates a warehouse and needed to purchase a scissor lift for his loading dock. Charlie went to a dealer that sold such equipment, both new and used. Charlie told the dealer he didn’t know what to buy but needed a lift capable of regularly moving loads up to 2,000 pounds. The dealer showed Charlie a used model and said it was capable of moving the loads Charlie required and would operate as well as a new lift. Based on those statements, Charlie purchased the used lift. The back of the invoice contained the various terms and conditions of the sale, including “Warranties: Used equipment is sold with no warranties” and “Entire Agreement: It is expressly agreed that the provisions set forth herein constitute the parties’ entire agreement. Any promises, negotiations, or representations not expressly set forth in this Agreement are of no force and effect.” After a month of regular use, the lift stopped operating. Charlie later determined the model he purchased was not rated to lift loads over 1,500 pounds.
Identify any potential warranty claims and explain whether Charlie has any claim for breach of any warranty.
Charlie has no express warranty claim based on the dealer’s oral statements given the merger clause and the disclaimer of warranties, although some jurisdictions require a conspicuous disclaimer of an express warranty.
As to implied warranties, UCC Section 2-316 requires any disclaimer of implied warranties be conspicuous. The disclaimer here was not conspicuous and is ineffective.
As to the implied warranty of merchantability, goods must be fit for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used. Here, the lift was used outside its normal parameters. As to the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, Charlie relied on the skill and judgment of the seller, explicitly told the seller what he was going to use the equipment for, and that it would have to stand up under such use. The seller was aware of his assurances that the equipment would handle Charlie’s anticipated use was a primary reason for the purchase. Because the lift was not fit for that particular purpose, Charlie has a claim for breach of that implied warranty.