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Political Science 216: Introduction to Law: Class Problem


Practice Problem; Legal Research;

Professor Ross Astoria

Ikarus and Persephone

Fight For the Sun


            Ikarus owns a “net-zero” house in southeastern Wisconsin.  Through the use of passive solar heating, photovoltaic panels, geothermal heating, modern insulation, and triple-paned windows, he does not have to import any energy into his house from WE Energies. Indeed, on sunny days he exports energy to the grid and makes a profit.  Ikarus is very proud of his house and the work that he has put in to it. 

            Ikarus’ southern neighbor, Persephone, has several trees on her property, and over the years, these trees have grown up and become thicker.  In the spring, they produce blossoms, whose beauty and fragrance pleases Persephone very much.  By next summer, Ikarus estimates that the shade from these trees will cover his photovoltaic panels and greatly reduce their efficiency. Ikarus has asked Persephone to trim the trees and has even offered to pay for the trimming, but Persephone has refused because she believes that trimming the trees would reduce the number of blossoms the trees produce. 

            To escape the cold, Persephone spends every winter in Hawaii, returning only in time to see her trees bloom. Stressed and feeling as if he had no other option to losing the investments he made in his net-zero house, Ikarus hires the Paul Bunyan Tree Trimming Service to prune Persephone’s trees while she is away. When Persephone returns to Wisconsin she discovers that her trees have been trimmed. She is furious and threatens to sue. Now even more stressed, Ikarus calls the prestigious law firm of Astoria, Astoria, and Astoria for advice. One of the firm’s partners, Dr. Ross Astoria, assigns the case to you, a junior associate at the firm. 


Initial Question

            Without looking at any sources (legal or otherwise), give your opinion as to whether Ikarus or Persephone is right?


Legal Question

1.         Counsel Ikarus on his legal claims and liabilities – i.e., what legitimate claim or claims does Persephone have against Ikarus and is Persephone likely to win on these claims? What claims does Ikarus have against Persephone and is Ikarus likely to win on these claims? What sort of damages can Ikarus expect to pay or receive?


Law and Society Question

            1.         Since the early years of the American Republic, state judges have altered the content and meaning of the doctrine of ancient lights. Why have they made these alterations and what does it say about society’s attitude towards sunlight that the doctrine presently has the form that it does?


Reflective Question

How, if at all, was your opinion changed by having read the applicable law?




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