A Rhyme and a Reason
In his torts class, Professor Jed Shugerman uses a novel method to keep 1Ls on their toes—reciting poetry. Here, Samuel Black ’21 recounts his own poetic moment.

Like most 1Ls, I’d heard a lot about being put on the spot in class with the Socratic method, and I was nervous about having to always be on top of my game. But I could relax my shoulders a bit that first day in torts when Professor Shugerman told us that if we weren’t prepared when he cold-called us about a case, there was a safety net: Instead of getting chastised or wasting everyone’s time trying to think of something to say, we could come to the next class with a poem we’d written about the case and read it.

And so, there came a day when I’d been having a hard week and had done only about half the reading. And when Professor Shugerman came around to my name on the list, and asked me a question about the case In re Kinsman Transit Co. (1964), I just said, “Can I do a poem?”

It’s embarrassing when you’re not prepared, so that night, I went home with the goal of not only understanding the case—which was about a collision between two ships and who was liable—but also writing something memorable and entertaining.

I never took a poetry class in college, but I enjoyed the process because it was a new way of thinking for me. Law school isn’t always super creative—it’s very left brain—and it was nice to use a more creative way to help myself and others understand the law. But when it came time to read the poem (below) in front of the other 1Ls, I was extremely nervous. I’m definitely not into public speaking and I was way overthinking the whole thing. But I put in a solid effort, and it was exciting to hear the laughter and get that encouragement from everyone. And at the end of the semester, right before the final, when we were all getting anxious, Professor Shugerman read his own poem—a mix of advice and everything we’d learned along the way. It was really kind of beautiful and it gave us all the chance to slow things down, to listen, and to remember that whatever happened, we had all learned a lot. — as told to Paula Derrow

Court room drawing.
Case: In re Kinsman Transit Co. (1964)
On the Buffalo River one day with great winds and rain enduring,
The ship Shiras drifted and was let loose from its mooring. 
When it collided with Tewksbury and floated straight for the bridge,
The city of Buffalo could not raise it up even a smidge.

Twas a man in a tavern that was late for his shift,
And another who hadn’t tied a knot tight enough sent the ship adrift.

The two boats and the bridge created a dam,
Water built up, flooding ensued, and KABLAM.

Was all of this foreseeable? The court seemed to say,
That lowering the standard should be the American way.
Even if unexpected consequences happen to occur,
A defendant may still be liable, as many courts would concur.

If the harm is a foreseeable reason why the risk is considered negligent,
Then the harm within the risk doctrine is undoubtedly evident.

An Ode to Negligence Per Se
Should you find yourself at Fordham Law School,
You will learn of negligence per se.
Punny Jed Shugerman teaches the rule
to JD students both evening and day.

The Dalal case – with bad driving plaintiff
and defendant driving without her specs – 
demonstrates that you are negligent if
You fail to meet the statutory reqs.

Victor and Hedges – parked inside the walk –
Could not claim negligence as they had hoped. 
To collect for this vehicular knock,
be of the group for whom the statute spoke.

This negligence per se doctrine, you’ll see,
Drives optimal deterrence, judicial economy.
– Bliss Griffin

Vaughan v Menlove
What does it mean to be reasonable?
I’m reasonable, I like to think I am
Always taking my time, doing what I can
But not all of us are
It would be unlikely to assume
You can do you 
But your neighbor can always do you dirty too
I’ve never had to stack hay, yes I’m pretty glad to say
But I’d like to think I’d do it responsibly oh in a marvelous way
The standard is of a reasonable person is not really concrete
However juries always seem to figure it out, what a feat
That being said it’s hard to be excused
More likely than not you will be found reasonable and will have to pay your dues
— David Amaya
Vaughan v. Menlove 

A moron stacks hay.
His stupidity does not
Excuse his duty.

Appelhans v. McFall

A child who does not
Know right from wrong should likely
Not be on a bike. 

The T.J. Hooper

Off the Jersey shore,
Your neglected cargo now 
Sleeps with the fishes.

–Douglas Ballanco

Want to see your @ Fordham Law story here? Tell us about it at fordhamlawyer@law.fordham.edu