Assignment 3: Graded Weekly Assignment: Drafting–Defendant’s Answer
The Answer to a Complaint is the document that will identify the legal issues that need to be litigated at trial. The allegations in a complaint are based on a reasonable interpretation of the facts and law but are not based on evidence yet. When an Answer is drafted, each allegation should either be admitted or denied, or presented as a statement that the defendant neither admits nor denies because there are insufficient facts to admit or deny. This will set the tone for discovery, investigation and issues that identify the heart of the controversy. This is also where the defendant can raise affirmative defenses to the claim that, if proven, will negate portions or in some cases, all of the claims made by the plaintiff.
The basic questions that you should be able to answer at this stage are:
- What are the main characteristics of an affirmative defense?
- How does it differ from a Complaint that does not have all elements met?
Week 2 Tasks
Refer to the project scenario given in Week 1: Final Project Overview.
Harper is turning out to be an active client. He is impatient to see the answer of the defendant, O’Fay, to your defamation complaint. He asks you to draft a sample answer to his complaint so he can be prepared for the actual response. Your supervising attorney directs you to draft a sample answer as can be expected from O’Fay’s counsel and based on the facts of the case and applicable legal standards.
Compile your draft in a Microsoft Word document.
On a separate page, cite all sources using the Bluebook format.
The following is the scenario or this assignment:
Your client, Bradley Harper, a university football coach, has been accused of making his players shoot steroids. A student newspaper reporter, Sheila O’Fay, hears a rumor that Harper has been giving the players steroids. O’Fay happens to sit next to two football players in one of her classes and asks the players whether they know anything about it. They say that they don’t take steroids but that they have heard the rumor and think there might be some truth to it. O’Fay does no other investigating nor does she attempt to contact your client before publishing a story in the university-funded newspaper, in which she affirmatively states that Harper makes his players shoot steroids. In the story, she cites the two football players as sources but does not mention their names.
The rumor turns out to be false. Harper has never given any players steroids, and all the players, as well as the other coaching staff, testify to it. Harper now comes to your firm, Scott and Free, P. A., hoping to file a defamation suit against the student.
Will he win?