Project #14062 - Torts

Using the format set forth in Gilbert’s Legal Research Writing & Analysis, prepare a written brief on the following case:


Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R. Co.
248 N.Y. 339
(This case may be found on Lexis®/Nexis® or on page 319 of the casebook)



A case brief is the result of distilling a court opinion down into its essential elements. There are many different ways to brief a case, each dependent largely upon its purpose in being assigned.  Below is the format which you should follow for briefing cases in this course:




TO:  Supervising Attorney’s Name, Esq.


FROM:  (last four digits of your social security number)


DATE:  (the date the brief is due)



(You should give a complete citation to the case being briefed, including the name of the case, all parallel citations and date of decision.  Use Fla. R. App. P. 9.800 if applicable.  If Fla. R. App. P. 9.800 is not applicable, use either Bluebook or ALWD citation form.)



(Summarize the holdings of any previous courts and the disposition of the case by these courts.  Explain how the case got to this court, e.g., interlocutory appeal, summary judgment, etc.  This explains where the case has been and what happened prior to its arrival at this court.  It will be necessary to trace back and determine what the decision of each lower court or administrative body was in the actions prior to those involved in the case you are reading.  Ex: Appeal from judgment of dismissal. It is significant to note if the prior decisions were from a trial court or an appellate court or both.  Most of the opinions you will read will be those of appellate courts. Be sure to briefly identify the parties and the relief they were seeking or the defenses they raised. This should be a record of the judicial history of the case so it should be written in the past tense.)



(Summarize the legally significant/relevant/materials facts of the case; that is, those facts which were relied on by the court in reaching its decision and those that affect the outcome of a case.  Identify the parties by name and indicate the role of parties involved in the litigation, i.e., plaintiff, defendant, appellee, appellant, etc.  so that the reader can understand the relationship that each person has to the others and to the litigation. Select names which clearly identify each person and be consistent with the use of that name throughout the document.  This should be a well-organized narrative statement; not a list.  A chronological presentation isusually the best.  Note for the reader if the facts are in dispute. The facts must always be written in the past tense.



(A case may present one or several issues or questions being decided by this court. Identify what the parties asked the court to determine. Phrase the issue so that it has some relevance to the case at hand.  The issue is a question that should be stated in broad terms so it incorporates some of the relevant facts of the case, e.g.,Does a conditional threat constitute an assault?   You should set forth a legal issue, not a factual issue. The issue must contain enough legally significant facts to allow the reader a clear understanding of the problem.  Thus, in a criminal action where the defendant pleads the unconstitutionality of a statute under which he was convicted as a defense, the issue should be stated in terms of the alleged unconstitutionality of the statute rather than as a simple question of whether or not the defendant should go to jail. Issues should be one sentence in length. There are three ways issues can be phrased:

1.  Direct question:  “Is pointing an unloaded gun at a person an assault?”

2. The “whether” format:  “Whether pointing an unloaded gun at a person is an assault?”

3. The “under” format: “Under Florida law, is pointing an unloaded gun at a person an assault?”

Preferred formats = Direct or “under.”  Avoid “whether” format (sentence fragment).  The issue MUST always be in the form of a question and should be written in the present tense. Beware of issues which ask “should”, “can”, or “may” someone do something.)  



(Provide the answer to the question(s) being resolved by this court.  How did thiscourt answer the legal issue(s) addressed in the majority opinion?  Not simply a “yes” or “no” answer.  Give the answer in a complete sentence and incorporate some of the court’s reasons for the answer.  Give a very brief and direct response to the issue and an indication of the court’s action.  The holding and decision must always be written in the past tense.  If you set forth three issues, then you will need three separate answers.  Each answer should be no more than two sentences in length.  Do not include citations.)  


(Fully discuss the reasons why the court reached the conclusions it did and the thought process by which it arrived at this decision. This is the rationale used by the court in resolving the issue.  This will explain how the court reached its holding.  This is the court’s thought process from point A to point B.  Re-read your issues(s) and answer(s) and ensure that the reasoning is directly responsive to these and answers the “why” question.  Avoid the use of citations in this section. Avoid quoting the case; use your own words to summarize and explain the court’s reasoning. Beware of dicta! This must always be written in the past tense.)



This is the actual disposition of this case, such as “affirmed” or “reversed.”



(In addition to the opinion of the court, attention should also be paid to the statements of dissenting members of a court or to expressions of judges concurring in the decision of the majority but writing separate opinions.  Many of the dissenting opinions of Justice Holmes have later been adopted as majority points of view on the part of the United States Supreme Court. Briefly summarize theseother opinions with reasoning, e.g., Warren concurred..... Minority opinions can help with understanding the majority opinion.  Many minority opinions are issued “without opinion”, e.g., Justice O’Connor and Rehnquist concurred without opinion.  It is important to note the number of minority opinions of this nature but not necessarily the name(s) of the judges who author them.  These other opinions must be written in the past tense.)

Subject Law
Due By (Pacific Time) 10/11/2013 12:00 am
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