Socio Legal Issue
This is the prompt that you will use to identify the socio legal issue and write the essay:
Juan and Nora are best friends and roommates who met as undergrads in college. When they moved into their shared apartment, both had decent jobs. Juan works in the luxury handbag department at Nordstrom. However, the landlord has raised the rent each year, making it increasingly hard to pay the lease and bills. On top of that, Nora was just laid off from her job at the Apple Store, which is “downsizing.”
Juan realized he had to get creative and think of a way to earn more money to make the rent, since both of their names are on the lease and he didn’t want to get evicted. It occurred to Juan that customers who shop in his department are willing to pay well over $2,000 for purses and fancy gift items from luxury brands. If people are willing to pay that much for a single item, imagine what he could make if he could create a close reproduction, even if he charged half as much! He’d be doing them a favor, too. Juan decided he would make a couple of different types of products to sell at a “pop up” tent outside of Nordstrom. Since he knew the security guards from work, he promised to give them a big tip to simply ignore his business.
First, Juan had a bunch of keychains made to look like the official logo for the famous, historic, haute couture French brand, Chanel, which has a distinctive inverted gold twin “C” design, just like the original. To make the keychains look expensive, he had them dipped in shimmery gold-like metal material. He charged $300 per key chain, but it only cost $30 to make them. What a profit margin!
Second, Juan had a tote bag made with a repeating pattern of the distinctive and uber-famous “double G” marks in brown that evoked the famous Italian fashion house, Gucci, in business since 1921. In addition to having the repeating design printed onto the tote bag, he had handles made with imitation leather and connected them to the bag with Gucci’s highly identifiable red and green fabric stripes. He sold the tote for $600, but it only cost $50 to make. Juan couldn’t believe how realistic the key chains and totes were!
On the very first day of the pop-up shop, Juan sold out! Customers buzzed around the table grabbing items for their holiday gifts. One customer said, “I can’t believe what a deal this cute Gucci tote is!” When another customer asked if he had gift boxes for the key chains, Juan said “sure, I’ll be right back.” He ran into Nordstrom and grabbed a bunch of genuine Chanel gift boxes from behind the counter where he usually works. Customers saw Juan coming in and out of Nordstrom and just figured the “sidewalk sale” was a luxe brand promotion for the holidays. Juan made over $10,000 that day alone!
Meanwhile, Nora decided she needed to earn money, and wanted independence from an employer who could fire her. She heard from a friend that a married couple named Ling and Rami were looking for a woman to be a surrogate. It seemed ideal. After connecting with Nora, Ling and Rami separately purchased an embryo from an agency using donor sperm and eggs. They all got ready for the surrogacy by signing an agreement, which states:
Nora will be implanted with an embryo purchased by Ling and Rami, and gestate the fetus to term in exchange for $25,000 to be paid in three installments, plus medical expenses. Ling and Rami agree to take out an insurance policy for Nora. Upon the birth of a child, Ling and Rami will take the child home to raise it as their own. Nora will permanently terminate all parental rights and is not the future mother.
After the implantation of the donor embryo, Nora got pregnant. Several months later, Nora had a close call with severe pains and had to go to the emergency room. Although she left ten messages for Ling and Rami, they don’t respond. Neither came to the hospital to help or support her. The baby was fine, but the close call made Nora realize they never took out that insurance policy or made any payments as promised. Sad, scared, and furious, Nora demanded they immediately pay her all installments, or she will file a lawsuit.
Still hearing nothing from Ling and Rami, Nora gives birth. However, the couple doesn’t even show up at the hospital to claim their baby! They had been fighting over the infertility, and decided to get a divorce. They no longer want the baby. After all, it isn’t genetically related to either one of them. Nora panics since she’s a single woman and doesn’t even want a child! She doesn’t have a taste or preference for child-rearing.
Nora isn’t sure what the law and rules are on surrogacy, but once saw on a TV show that it may be “baby selling.” Actually, all parties live in Newland, a state that has no laws or case decisions yet on whether surrogacy is legal, just an adoption law system. Nora hopes she can avoid hiring a lawyer, privately bargain with the couple, and get them to take the baby. Meanwhile several people who bought Juan’s totes got angry when, within a week, the handles fell off. Customers started tweeting what “cheap crap” Gucci products are. Worse yet, a viral TikTok shows a hysterical couple crying that their dog choked on a Chanel key chain. Other TikTok’s show customers scraping the “gold” off their keychains, threatening to “sue Chanel for emotional distress and money back.”
Both Gucci’s and Chanel’s sales start falling, they find out about the fake products, and file a lawsuit against Juan to enforce their rights.
Write an essay in which you identify the socio-legal issues and analyze the facts on a motion to the court for enforcement of the surrogacy contract, and the separate lawsuits filed by Chanel and Gucci, based on the course material.
Remember, there is a conflict between state laws on surrogacy, so you need to explain the court’s options, based on existing precedents in other places, and then argue your position.