Price v. High Pointe Oil Company, Inc. briefing

Price v. High Pointe Oil Company, Inc.


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IRAC Explanation Sample Application
  • –  Note brief facts of the case (optional)
  • –  Note procedural history (optional)
Price v. High Pointe Oil Company, Inc.

  • –  Plaintiff Becky Price’s house was destroyed when High Point

mistakenly filled her basement with large amount of oil. House was rebuilt and she was reimbursed for all of her economic losses. Price sued for negligence, including for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

  • –  Jury found for Price, awarded her $100,000. Michigan appellate court affirmed. High Point appealed to Michigan Supreme Court.
  • –  What legal question must be answered in order to reach a conclusion in the case?
  • –  The issue should be specific (e.g. “Has there been a false imprisonment if the plaintiff was asleep at the time of ‘confinement’?”) rather than general (e.g. “Will the plaintiff be successful?”)
  • –  Generally one sentence
  • –  The issue can refer to the specific case being briefed (e.g. “Did Miller owe a duty of care to Osco, Inc.?”) or which can apply to all cases which present a similar question, (e.g. “Is a duty owed whenever there is an employment relationship?”)
  • –  Most cases present one issue. If there is more than one issue, list all, and give rules for all issues raised.
Are noneconomic damages recoverable for the negligent destruction of real property?
Rule – The law (stated in the case) which applies to the issue. (Absent any relevant statute, the answer to the issue is common law.)
  • –  The rule could be a statute or common law
  • –  Generally one sentence
  • –  The rule should be stated as a general principal, (e.g. “a duty of care is owed whenever the defendant should anticipate that her conduct could create a risk of harm to the plaintiff”) not a conclusion to the particular case being briefed (e.g. “the plaintiff was negligent”).
Michigan common law has never allowed the recovery of noneconomic damages for the negligent destruction of real or personal property.
Application/ Analysis – How does the court apply the rule of law to the facts of the case?

– Generally paragraphs long; the most important part of the brief.

– It should be written debate, not simply a statement of the conclusion. Present both sides of the issue. The application shows how you are able to reason on paper and is the most difficult (and, on exams, the most important) skill you will learn.

In support of allowing recovery for non-economic damages, the court considered that it would have to change the long-standing common law rule that provided that the remedy for negligent destruction of property is the market value of the property (if destroyed) or repair value (if damaged). The court recognized that common law can change in order to adopt to changing circumstances. The court would have to change the common law for Price to keep her award of $100,000 for her pain and suffering, humiliation, embarrassment and emotional distress.

On the other hand, in determining that Price cannot recover for non- economic damages, the court found that the long-standing common law rule is rational and is justified by public policy considerations. In addition, no Michigan case has ever allowed a plaintiff to recover noneconomic damages resulting only from the negligent destruction of property. The court found that it will adhere to this rule and stated that the legislature is the appropriate entity to consider this rule and change it if appropriate. Accordingly, Price’s award for non-economic damages is not appropriate.

Conclusion – The conclusion states the result of the case. It is usually at the end of the case.

Example: The impact rule does not preclude plaintiffs’ claim for damages for emotional distress caused by the consumption of a foreign substance in their beverage. The intermediate appellate court decision is reversed, and the case is remanded.

The Michigan Supreme Court concluded that the long-standing common law rule which does not allow for the recovery of noneconomic damages for the negligent destruction of property should remain in effect. The case was remanded to the trial court for a judgment in favor of High Point.


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