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Posted: July 13th, 2023



Midterm Assignment

This assessment has two parts. First, read the following scenario and write 2-3 pages answering the questions and analyzing the legal issues. In your analysis, you should answer all of the questions asked and thoroughly discuss how the law would apply to the given facts. If something is ambiguous, explain why it’s ambiguous and discuss the outcome of each possible alternative.

Second, I want you to think of a time in your life (preferably in your professional career) when you entered into a contract that didn’t turn out the way you expected it to. Write 2-3 pages detailing the agreement and what went wrong. Was there a failure of one of the required elements of a valid contract? Were there any third-parties involved? How were the parties eventually discharged from the agreement? Was there a breach? If so, what resulted from the breach? Be sure to make reference to topics discussed in the various lessons on contracts throughout this course.

Pied Piper is a startup software company in California. Richard Hendricks is Pied Piper’s CEO, and is an agent of the corporation. One day, Richard and his friend, Erlich Bachman, who is not an agent of Pied Piper, are at a restaurant where they meet Duncan, the CEO of Sliceline, a pizza delivery app. Hendricks jokingly introduces Bachman as Pied Piper’s chief operating officer. Duncan doesn’t realize that Hendricks was joking, and while Hendricks is in the restroom, Bachman and Duncan make a deal for Pied Piper to acquire Sliceline and all of its employees.

Hendricks is very unhappy that Erlich would do this, but then he realizes that Pied Piper really does need to hire some new software developers, so he decides to honor Erlich’s agreement for Pied Piper to buy Sliceline.

Once the Sliceline employees have become Pied Piper employees, some of them become disgruntled with their working conditions. Hendricks pushes the programmers hard. They consistently work 80-hour weeks and he tells them they shouldn’t complain because he pays them all an annual salary of $150,000. They’re also a little creeped out because he obviously monitors their Pied Piper email accounts, as he will sometimes mention things in meetings that he could only know by reading their private emails.

The disgruntled employees decide to band together and form a union. The employees begin to negotiate the terms of a collective bargaining agreement with Hendricks, but he isn’t giving them what they want. To protest, the employees all agree to strike between the hours of 10am and 2pm every workday. In response, Hendricks fires all of the striking employees.

1. Is the agreement for Pied Piper to acquire Sliceline enforceable? Why or why not?
2. Is Pied Piper violating any of its employees’ legal rights? Why or why not?
3. Do the fired employees have a claim against Pied Piper for wrongful termination? Why or why not?

Rubric (for part one):
This rubric is a set of criteria used to assess your submission.
The following 2 criteria will be applied:

1. Issue spotting – how well are you able to identify the legal issues presented by the scenario?
a. Exemplary: You have spotted all of the legal issues raised by the scenario and possibly even some in addition to what was intended by the instructor
b. Commendable: You have successfully identified all of the most important legal issues, but possibly missed one or two minor points.
c. Sufficient: You have discussed most of the most important legal issues arising in the case but have missed at least one significant issue.
d. Minimal: You have noted some of the important legal issues but have neglected to discuss a majority of the crucial points.
e. Insufficient: You have failed to identify any of the important legal issues presented in the scenario.

2. Application of relevant law – once you have spotted a legal issue in the scenario, how well are you able to apply the law to the facts and reach the correct conclusion?
a. Exemplary: For each legal issue you discuss, you correctly determine how the law applies to the issue. Additionally, you consider alternative facts or outcomes, and identify how the law would handle various interpretations of ambiguous facts or terms.
b. Commendable: For each legal issue you identify, you correctly state the applicable law and conclusion, but do not consider alternative outcomes or ambiguous facts/terms.
c. Sufficient: For most legal issues you raise, you correctly apply the law to the facts, but one or more conclusions is inaccurate and there is no discussion of alternatives.
d. Minimal: For most legal issues you identify, you incorrectly apply the law to the facts and reach a conclusion that is not in line with applicable law. Further, there is no discussion of alternatives.
e. Insufficient: You fail to correctly apply the law to any of the legal issues you discuss, and consistently reach the wrong conclusions.

Rubric (for part two):
For this part, I am basically looking for a good-faith effort to analyze a real-world contractual situation from your life through the lens of the material we have learned in this course. Your submission will generally be evaluated as follows:
a. Exemplary: A truly thoughtful reflection on a past experience. You have taken the legal concepts discussed in this class and applied them to a failed agreement in your life (preferably your professional career) and made a good-faith effort to understand the situation through the lens of contract law.
b. Minimal: You adequately describe a contract that didn’t turn out the way you expected it to and mention a class concept or two. However, there is very little thoughtful reflection about the situation and the legal consequences of each party’s actions.
c. Insufficient: You describe a contractual situation from your past experience, but do not apply any legal concept to the facts or reflect upon each party’s actions in light of contract law.

Part One: Analysis of the Scenario

Is the agreement for Pied Piper to acquire Sliceline enforceable? Why or why not?
The agreement for Pied Piper to acquire Sliceline may not be enforceable due to several legal issues. First, Richard Hendricks, as the CEO of Pied Piper, jokingly introduced Erlich Bachman as the chief operating officer (COO) of Pied Piper. Although Duncan, the CEO of Sliceline, believed this statement to be true, it was a misrepresentation as Erlich Bachman is not an agent of Pied Piper. The agreement between Erlich Bachman and Duncan, therefore, lacks the necessary intention to create legal relations. Generally, a contract requires a genuine intention by the parties involved to be legally bound by their agreement.

Second, Richard Hendricks initially expressed unhappiness with Erlich’s actions. However, he later decides to honor the agreement and proceed with the acquisition of Sliceline by Pied Piper. This change of heart might raise issues of duress or undue influence, as it appears Richard Hendricks felt compelled to go through with the agreement due to Pied Piper’s need for new software developers. If it can be proven that Richard Hendricks was unduly influenced or coerced into accepting the agreement, it may render the contract unenforceable.

Finally, there is a possibility of ambiguity surrounding the terms and conditions of the agreement between Erlich Bachman and Duncan. Since the scenario does not provide specific details about the agreement, such as the purchase price, payment terms, or other essential elements, it is unclear whether there was a meeting of the minds between the parties. Ambiguity in contract terms can lead to disputes and make the agreement unenforceable.

In conclusion, the enforceability of the agreement for Pied Piper to acquire Sliceline is questionable due to the lack of genuine intention, potential duress or undue influence, and ambiguity surrounding the agreement’s terms.

Is Pied Piper violating any of its employees’ legal rights? Why or why not?
Pied Piper may be violating some of its employees’ legal rights based on the scenario provided. First, the employees are consistently working 80-hour weeks, which might be considered excessive and in violation of labor laws and regulations. Depending on the jurisdiction, there are laws that limit the number of working hours, mandate rest periods, and establish overtime pay requirements. If Pied Piper fails to comply with these laws, it could be violating its employees’ rights.

Second, Richard Hendricks’ practice of monitoring the employees’ Pied Piper email accounts and using the information obtained from private emails during meetings raises concerns regarding privacy and confidentiality. Employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their communications, especially when using company-provided email accounts. Monitoring and using such information without proper authorization or legitimate reasons could violate the employees’ privacy rights and potentially infringe on laws related to electronic communications and data protection.

Overall, Pied Piper’s actions of requiring excessive working hours and invading employees’ privacy may potentially violate certain legal rights afforded to employees, depending on applicable labor laws and privacy regulations.

Do the fired employees have a claim against Pied Piper for wrongful termination? Why or why not?
The fired employees may have a claim against Pied Piper for wrongful termination based on the scenario. The employees decided to strike between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm every workday to protest against the unfavorable terms negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement. In response, Hendricks fired all of the striking employees.

Wrongful termination generally refers to the unlawful dismissal of an employee in violation of labor laws or contractual provisions. In this case, if the employees were engaged in lawful strike activity protected by labor laws, their termination solely based on their participation in the strike could be considered wrongful.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in the United States provides employees with the right to engage in protected concerted activities, including strikes, for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. If the employees’ strike falls within the scope of protected activities under the NLRA or relevant labor laws, Pied Piper’s decision to fire them solely due to their participation in the strike could be deemed a violation of their rights.

However, it is important to consider any potential contractual provisions, such as a no-strike clause or specific termination provisions, which could impact the employees’ claims. Additionally, the specific jurisdiction’s labor laws and the circumstances surrounding the strike would need to be evaluated to determine the viability of the wrongful termination claim.

In summary, the fired employees might have a claim against Pied Piper for wrongful termination if their strike activity was protected under labor laws and they were terminated solely based on their participation in the strike, without any legal justifications or contractual provisions allowing such termination.

Part Two: Analysis of a Personal Contractual Situation

In my professional career, I entered into a contract with a web development agency to create a custom e-commerce website for my online retail business. The agreement stated that the website would be delivered within three months and would include specific features and functionalities outlined in the contract.

Unfortunately, the project did not turn out as expected, and several issues arose during the development process. Firstly, there was a significant delay in delivering the website. Instead of being completed within three months as agreed, the development stretched to six months. This delay impacted my business operations, as I was unable to launch the website and start generating sales as planned.

Furthermore, the website’s functionalities were not fully implemented according to the contract specifications. Some crucial features were missing or not working properly, which affected the user experience and hindered the website’s overall performance. Despite multiple requests for corrections and updates, the web development agency failed to address these issues adequately.

In analyzing this situation through the lens of contract law, several elements of a valid contract were impacted. First, there was a failure in the performance aspect of the contract. The web development agency did not fulfill its obligation to deliver the website within the agreed timeframe and failed to meet the specified functionalities. This failure to perform as promised constitutes a breach of contract.

Additionally, there were third parties involved in the contract. Apart from myself and the web development agency, there were subcontractors and designers working on the project. The failure of the web development agency to coordinate and manage these third parties effectively contributed to the project’s shortcomings.

As a result of the breach, the parties attempted to negotiate a resolution. However, despite several discussions, the web development agency was unable to rectify the issues satisfactorily. Eventually, the parties agreed to terminate the contract and seek a refund of the partial payments made. The web development agency acknowledged its failure to fulfill the contract’s obligations and refunded a portion of the fees paid.

——— my experience with the web development agency involved a breach of contract, as they failed to deliver the website within the agreed timeframe and did not meet the specified functionalities. The involvement of third parties complicated the situation, and the parties eventually discharged the agreement through mutual termination. The breach resulted in delays, financial losses, and the need to seek alternative solutions for website development.

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