Posted: May 18th, 2021

Civil complaint | Legal Research and Writing | University of Memphis

  

Your assignment is to conduct the preliminary research, prepare the summons, and draft a complaint for the McDonald’s employee featured in these news stories (she plans to sue the hostile customer):

“I Want My Chicken McNuggets!”

Initial Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7IqXthv3as
Follow-Up Story: http://nbc24.com/news/local/mcnugget-rage-nets-woman-60-days-in-jail

Your Boss:

Andy A. Attorney, Esq.
Attorney & Associates, PLLC
123 Main Street, Suite 2500
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 243-1000 tel
(901) 243-1001 fax
[email protected]
Tennessee Bar No. 123456

Your Boss’s Client:

Plaintiff:
Stacy B. McDonald
500 Fightback Lane
Memphis, TN 38127 
(Fictitious name for the McDonald’s drive-through attendant)

Your Adversary:

Defendant:
Melodi A. Dushane
1030 Nugget Avenue
Memphis, TN 38111
(customer in the pink shirt in the video)

Note: This hypothetical fact pattern uses a combination of real characters and fictional details. Please DO NOT make any attempt to contact any of the people named in this fact pattern. The lawsuit itself is entirely fictional and fabricated for academic purposes only. 

The Complaint – Format and Content:

The format and content (sections) of the complaint are listed below. Please include each of these sections in your complaint. See the sample complaints on eCourseware for guidance (though not all of them use the same sections or formatting):

  • Parties
    • This case will only have two parties: Ms. McDonald and Ms. Dushane.
    • McDonald is suing Dushane for the incident depicted in the news stories.
  • Jurisdiction and Venue
    • In real life, this event happened in Toledo, Ohio. However, for purposes of our assignment, let’s assume the incident took place in Memphis, TN.
    • You’ll be preparing a civil suit to be filed in Tennessee state civil court (not federal court) in Shelby County.
    • You’ll have to do the research to figure out exactly what court we’re filing in and its proper name, etc. (we can discuss this on eCourseware).
  • Facts 
    • Use the news stories and anything else you find on the internet regarding this event to allege all relevant facts required to establish your causes of action.
    • NOTE: for our purposes, let’s pretend the attack occurred on January 1, 2020.
  • Causes of Action
    • Your complaint will allege three separate causes of action:
      • Count One: Assault
      • Count Two: Battery
      • Count Three: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (“IIED”)
    • Conduct legal research in the Tennessee state courts (not federal courts, and not any other state) to find the essential elements of each of these three COAs in Tennessee. You’ll have to plead these elements in the complaint.
    • *NOTE: In real life, there might be other viable causes of action to explore. But for purposes of this assignment, let’s just start with these.
      Make sure you allege every element of every count (otherwise, the claim will be dismissed).
  • Damages
    • How was the plaintiff harmed by this incident, physically, emotionally, psychologically, or financially?
    • Of course, we don’t have specific information at this point (like medical records or doctor bills), but we can plead general allegation for purposes of this draft complaint.
  • Relief Sought (What are we asking the court to do? What award are we requesting?)
  • Don’t forget the signature block!

The Summons 

  • Every complaint must be filed with a summons. 
  • In most large jurisdictions (including Memphis), the local courts will provide a form summons on their website.
  • Please fill out a summons to accompany your complaint, and submit it to the Dropbox along with your complaint.
  • We will discuss summonses in more detail on eCourseware.

Tips and Reminders

  • Except for the introductory paragraph, all paragraphs should be numbered (see sample complaints). Make sure your complaint is consistently formatted, is easy to read, and has a professional appearance.
  • Be strategic in how you articulate your facts (remember, the defense will have to admit or deny every fact you allege).
  • Other than the assumptions provided above, please DO NOT assume any facts. Do not make up facts or fill in the banks using your imagination. Draft your complaint based on the information you actually have.
  • Remember that your assignment is to draft the complaint. Your draft will not necessarily be a finished product. In real life, your boss (the attorney) would edit what you wrote and “clean it up” in preparation for filing.
    • Your work should be as close-to-finished as possible, but there may be some critical details that you cannot locate or confirm…
      • If that happens, post questions to the discussion board and see if your classmates have had any luck finding the information.
      • If not, leave blanks in your complaint draft with a notation to your boss that certain information needs to be confirmed with the client.
    • In other words, this is a working draft. You may not be able to perfect it at this point, but your goal is to leave your boss with as little work to do as possible.
  • For your causes of action, be sure to allege every separate element of each claim (you will find the elements in your case law and/or statutes – which means you’ll have to do legal research).
  • Please DO NOT use your own name in the complaint’s signature block. You are not a licensed attorney, and signing a court document yourself would constitute unauthorized practice of law (a very serious offense). Instead, you are drafting this complaint on behalf of your boss, Andy Attorney (see information on page one of these instructions).
  • Submit TWO COPIES of your complaint: one as a Word document and one as a PDF.
  • Don’t forget the summons — please submit that with your complaint (at least a PDF if you’re working with a PDF form, but also include the Word document too if you create one).
  • Submit everything via the Dropbox (do not email; do not post to the discussion board).

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