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2017 How to Brief a case

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:03 pm    Post subject: 2017 How to Brief a case Reply with quote

Briefing Example
To fully understand the law with respect to business, you need to be able to read and understand court opinions. To make this task easier, you can use a method of case analysis that is called briefing. There is a fairly standard procedure that you can follow when you "brief' any court case. You must first read the case opinion carefully. When you feel you understand the case, you can prepare a brief of it.

Although the format of the brief may vary, typically it will present the essentials of the case under headings such as those listed below.

1. Case Name and Citation:

The name of the case should be placed at the beginning of each briefed case. The case name usually contains the names of the parties to the lawsuit. Where there are multiple plaintiffs or defendants, however, some of the names of the parties may be omitted from the case name. Abbreviations are also often used in case names.

The case citation, which consists of a number plus the year in which the case was decided, such as "121 S.Ct. 1879 (2001)," is set forth below the case name. The case citation identifies the book in the law library in which the case may be found. For example, the case in the above citation may be found in volume 121 of the Supreme Court Reporter page 1879. The name of the court that decided the case should be set forth below the case name for the case.

2. Summary of the Key Facts in the Case:

The important facts of a case should be stated briefly. Extraneous facts and facts of minor importance should be omitted from the brief The facts of the case can usually be found at the beginning of the case, but not necessarily. Important facts may be found throughout the case.

3. Issue Presented by the Case:

It is crucial in the briefing of a case to identify the issue presented to the court to decide. The issue on appeal is most often a legal question, although questions of fact are sometimes the subject of an appeal. The issue presented in each case is usually quite specific and should be asked in a (me-sentence question that is answerable only by a yes or no. For example, the issue statement, "Is Mary liable?" is too broad. A more proper statement of the issue would be, "Is Mary liable to Joe for breach of the contract made between them based on her refusal to make the payment due on September 30?"

4. Holding:

The "holding" is the decision reached by the present court. It should be yes or no. The holding should also state which party won.

5. Summary of the Court's Reasoning:

When an appellate court or supreme court issues a decision, which is often called an opinion, the court will normally state the reasoning it used in reaching its decision. The rationale for the decision may be based on the specific facts of the case, public policy, prior law, or other matters. In stating the reasoning of the court, the student should reword the court's language into the student's own language. This summary of the court's reasoning should pick out the meat of the opinions and weed out the nonessentials.


Please use the format of the brief for your briefing assignments.

PGA TOUR, Inc.. v Martin
121 S.Ct. 1879 (2001)
U.S. Supreme Court

OPINION, STEVEN, JUSTICE This case raises two questions concerning the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 to a gifted athlete.

FIRST: Whether the Act protects access to professional golf tournaments by a qualified entrant with a disability.

SECOND: Whether a disabled contestant may he denied the use of a golf cart because it would "fundamentally alter the nature" of the tournaments to allow him to ride when all other contestants must walk.

Petitioner PGA TOUR, Inc., a nonprofit entity formed in 1968, sponsors a professional golf tournaments conducted on three annual tours. About 200 golfers participate. These tournaments typically four-day events, played on courses operated by petitioner. The revenues generated amount to about $300 million a year, much of which is distributed as prize money. The "Conditions of Competition and Local Rules require players to walk the golf course during tournaments, but not during open qualifying round. On the SENIOR PGA TOUR, which is limited to golfers age 50 and older, contestants may use golf carts. Most seniors, however, prefer to walk.

Casey Martin is a talented golfer. As an amateur, he won 17 Oregon Golf Association events before he was 15, and won the state championship as a high school senior. He played on the Stanford University golf team that won the 1994 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA Championship. As a professional, Martin qualified for the NIKE TOUR in 1998 and 1999, and, based on his 1999 performance, qualified for the PGA TOUR in 2000. In the 1999 season, he entered 24 tournaments, made the cut 13 times, and had six top-10 finishes, coming in second twice and, third once.

Martin is also an individual with a disability as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since birth he has been afflicted with Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber Syndrome, degenerative circulatory disorder that obstructs the flow of blood from his right leg back to his heart The disease is progressive; it causes severe pain and has atrophied his right leg. During the latter part of his college career, because of the progress of the disease, Martin could no longer walk an 18-hole golf course. Walking not only caused him pain, fatigue, and anxiety, but also created a significant risk of hemorrhaging, developing blood clots, and fracturing his tibia so badly that an amputation might be required.

When Martin turned pro and entered petitioners Qualifying-School, he was permitted to use a cart during his successful progress through the first two stages. He made a request, supported by detailed medical records, for permission to use a golf cart during the third stage. Petitioner refused to review those records or to waive its walking rule for the third stage. Martin therefore filed this action.

At trial, petitioner PGA TOUR did not contest the conclusion that Martin has a disability covered by the ADA, or the fact that his disability prevents him from walking the course during a round of golf. Rather, petitioner asserted that the condition of walking is a substantive rule of competition, and that waiving it as to any individual for any reason would fundamentally alter the nature of the competition Petitioner's evidence included the testimony of a number of experts, among them some of the greatest golfers in history. These golfers explained that fatigue can be a critical factor in a tournament, particularly on the last day when psychological pressure is at a maximum. Their testimony makes it clear that, in their view, permission to use a cart might well give some players a competitive advantage over other players who must walk.

The judge found that the purpose of the rule was to inject fatigue into the skill of shot-making, but that the fatigue injected "by walking the course cannot be deemed significant under normal circumstances. Furthermore, Martin presented evidence, and the judge found, that even with the use of a cart, Martin must walk over a mile during an 18-hole round, and that the fatigue he suffers from coping with his disability is "undeniably greater" than the fatigue his able-bodied competitors endure from walking the course. As a result, the judge concluded that it would "not fundamentally alter the nature of the PGA Tour's game to accommodate him with a cart." The judge accordingly entered a permanent injunction requiring petitioner to permit Martin to use a cart in tour and qualifying events.

The Court of Appeals concluded that golf courses remain places of public accommodation during PGA tournaments. On the merits, because there was no serious dispute about the fact that permitting Martin to use a golf cart was both a reasonable and a necessary solution to the problem of providing him access to the tournaments, the Court of Appeals regarded the central dispute as whether such permission would "fundamentally alter" the nature of the PGA TOUR. Like the District Court, the Court of Appeals viewed the issue not as "whether use of carts generally would fundamentally alter the competition, but whether the use of a cart by Martin would do so. " That issue turned on "an intensive fact-based inquiry," and, the court concluded, had been correctly resolved by the trial judge. In its words "all that the cart does is permit Martin access to a type of competition in which he otherwise could not engage in because of his disability. "

Congress enacted the ADA in 1990 to remedy widespread discrimination against disabled individuals To effectuate its sweeping purpose, the ADA forbids discrimination against disabled individuals in major areas of public life, among them employment (Title I of the Act), public services (Title II), and public accommodations (Title III). At issue now is the applicability of Title III to petitioner's golf tours and qualifying rounds" in particular to petitioner's treatment of a qualified disabled golfer wishing to compete in those events.

It seems apparent, from both the general rule and the comprehensive definition of "public accommodations" that petitioner's golf tours and their qualifying rounds, fit comfortably within the coverage of Title III, and Martin within its protection. The events occur on "golf courses" a type of place specifically identified by the Act as a public accommodation. In this case the narrow dispute is whether allowing Martin to use a golf cart, despite the walking requirement that applies to the PGA TOURS is a modification that would fundamentally alter the nature of those events.

As an initial matter, we observe that the use of carts is not itself inconsistent with the "fundamental character" of the game of golf. From early on, the essence of the game has been shot-making-using clubs to cause a ball to progress from the teeing ground to a hole some distance away with as few strokes as possible. Golf carts started appearing with increasing regularity on American golf courses in the 1950s. Today they are everywhere. And they are encouraged. For one thing, they often speed play, and for another, they are great revenue producers. There is nothing in the rules of golf that either forbids the use of carts or penalizes a player for using a cart.
Petitioners, however, distinguishes the game of golf as it is generally played from the game that it sponsors in the PGA TOUR at the "highest level." According to petitioner, "the goal of the highest-level competitive athletics is to assess and compare the performance of different competitors, a task that is meaningful only if the competitors are subject to identical substantive rules. " The waiver of any possibly "outcome-affecting" rule for a contestant would violate this principle and therefore, in petitioner's view, fundamentally alter the nature of the highest level athletic event. The walking rule is one such rule, petitioner submits, because its purpose is "to inject the element of fatigue into the skill of shot-making," and thus its effect may be the critical loss of a stroke. As a consequence, the reasonable modification Martin seeks would fundamentally alter the nature of petitioner's highest level tournaments.

The force of petitioner's argument is, first of all, mitigated by the fact that golf is a game in which it is impossible to guarantee that all competitors will play under exactly the same conditions or that an individual's ability will be the sole determinant of the outcome. For example, changes in the weather may produce harder greens and more head winds for the tournament leader than for his closest pursuers. A lucky bounce may save a shot or two. Whether such happenstance events are more or less probable than the likelihood that a golfer afflicted with Klippel-Trehnaunay- Weber Syndrome would one day qualify for the PGA TOUR, they at least demonstrate that pure chance may have a greater impact on the outcome of elite golf tournaments than the fatigue resulting from the enforcement of the walking rule.

Further, the factual basis of petitioner's argument is undermined by the District Court's finding that the fatigue from walking during one of petitioner's 4-day tournaments cannot be deemed significant. The District Court credited the testimony of a professor in physiology and expert on fatigue, who calculated the calories expended in walking a golf course (about five miles) to be approximately 500 calories-"nutritionally less than a Big Mac." What is more, that energy is expended over an-hour period, during which golfers have numerous intervals for rest and refreshment. In fact, the expert concluded, because golf is a low intensity activity, fatigue from the game is primarily a psychological phenomenon in which stress and motivation are the key ingredients. And even under conditions of severe heat and humidity, the critical factor in fatigue is fluid loss rather than exercise from walking. Moreover, when given the option of using a cart, the majority of golfers in petitioner's tournaments have chosen to walk, often to relieve stress or for other strategic reasons. As TOUR member Eric Johnson testified, walking allows him to keep in rhythm, stay warmer when it is chilly, and develop a better sense of the elements and the course than riding a cart. As we have demonstrated, the walking rule is at best peripheral to the nature of petitioner's athletic events, and thus it might be waived in individual cases without working a fundamental alteration.

Under the ADA's basic requirement that the need of a disabled person be evaluated on an individual basis, we have no doubt that allowing Martin to use a golf cart would not fundamentally alter the nature of petitioner's tournaments. As we have discussed, the purpose of the walking rule is to subject players to fatigue, which in turn may influence the outcome of tournaments. Even if the rule does serve that purpose, it is an uncontested finding of the District Court that Martin "easily endures greater fatigue even with a cart than his able-bodied competitors do by walking." The purpose of the walking rule is therefore not compromised in the slightest by allowing Martin to use a cart. A modification that provides an exception to a peripheral tournament rule without impairing its purpose cannot be said to "fundamentally alter" the tournament. What it can be said to do, on the other hand, is to allow Martin the chance to qualify for and compete in the athletic events petitioner offers to those members of the public who have the skill and desire to enter. That is exactly what the ADA requires. As a result, Martin's request for a waiver of the walking rule should have been granted,

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed. It is so ordered.


Title and Citation:

PGA TOUR, Inc.. v Martin
121 S.Ct. 1879 (2001)
U.S. Supreme Court

2. Key Facts

PGA TOUR, Inc. is a nonprofit organization of professional golf tournaments. The PGA establishes rules for its golf tournaments and there is a rule that requires golfers to walk the golf course and not use golf carts. Casey Martin is a professional golfer who suffers from a degenerative circulatory disorder that atrophied Martin's right leg and causes him pain, fatigue, and anxiety when walking.
When Martin petitioned the PGA to use a golf cart during their golf tournaments, the PGA refused. Martin sued the PGA, alleging discrimination against disabled individuals in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a federal statute.

3. Issue
'Does the Americans with Disabilities Act require the PGA to accommodate Martin by permitting him to use a golf cart while playing in PGA tournaments?

4. Holding

Yes. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the PGA must allow Martin to use a golf cart when competing in PGA golf tournaments, upholding the
Court of Appeals.

5. Court's Reasoning:

Martin was disabled and covered by the act. Golf courses are "public accommodations" covered by the act. The use of golf carts is not a fundamental character of the game of golf. Other than the PGA rules there is no rule of golf that forbids the use of golf carts. It is impossible to guarantee all players in golf will play under the exact same conditions, so allowing Martin to use a golf cart gives him no advantage over other golfers. In fact, Martin, because of his disease, will probably suffer more fatigue playing golf using a golf cart than other golfers suffer without using a cart. This latter factor contradicts the PGA's contention that allowing Martin to use a golf cart will give him the advantage over other golfers who face fatigue by "walking the course." The PGA's "rule" is only peripheral to the game of golf and not a fundamental part of golf. Therefore, allowing Martin to use a golf cart will not fundamentally alter the PGA's highest level professional golf tournaments.
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