Under the guidance of
, Dan B. Dobbs Professor of Law, a group of Arizona Law students helped research an amicus brief that was filed in the DC Court of Appeals in the fall.
Professor Bublick, along with professor emeritus
Dan Dobbs and Paul Hayden, together the authors of the treatise
The Law of Torts (2ed 2011), were approached by the Washington, DC, firm Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, LLP, with a request to write a brief in support of plaintiffs in
Owens v. Sudan.
The plaintiffs in the case are hundreds of family members of the victims of the
1998 Al Queda bombings of U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salam, Tanzania
. The current proceedings address whether the presence requirement for claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress applies to family members of terrorism victims.
When Professor Bublick put out a call for a few volunteers to help her research the brief, more than 20 students showed up. This was despite the fact that the brief was due just before Thanksgiving -- a very busy time of year for 1Ls.
Students worked tirelessly on the research and final production of the brief. Among the 20 who helped (see below), Professor Bublick credits Lori Bable (1L) with creating an online platform to allow each member of the group to collaborate on the brief. Maritza Black (1L) did some of the key research on the presence requirement in other states and Darrah Blackwater (1L) worked late into the night editing and polishing the brief before the deadline.
Lori, who is a student in one of Professor Bublick's Torts sections, explained,
"What was most fulfilling about this process was that we had the opportunity as 1Ls to apply the research and writing skills we had just learned in class in a real world context. In a nutshell, we witnessed and participated in the research and drafting process from beginning to end."
Of the brief-writing effort overall, Professor Bublick notes that what impressed her most was the passion and work ethic of our students, saying:
"The future of our college, and our world, is in good hands with these kind and committed students."
She also is grateful to George Anhang at Cooley, LLP, who represented them pro bono in the proceeding. And, Maureen Garmon of the Cracchiolo Law Library added to the research.
The amicus brief submitted to the court centered on the question of presence. Professor Bublick explains the issue:
"One controversy in the law of intentional infliction of emotional distress is whether families of terror victims can recover for severe distress if they were not present at the scene of the terrorism-in this case, at the truck bombing of U.S. embassies."
In their treatise, she and Professors Dobbs and Hayden have taken the view that:
"If the defendant's conduct is sufficiently outrageous and intended to inflict emotional harm upon a person who is not present, no rule, nor any essential reason of logic or policy prevents liability." 2 Dan B. Dobbs, Paul T. Hayden & Ellen M. Bublick, The Law of Torts § 389 (2d ed. 2011).
"A number of courts have expressly endorsed this view, and we were pleased to file an amicus brief supporting that view, and the terror victims, in Owens v. Sudan."
1L students who assisted with the brief were:
Yesenia Gamez Valdez