Case law analysis – contract law ant

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In this introductory course to business law, you will examine real-world court decisions pertinent to the topics that you will be studying. This is not a course designed to train lawyers, and you are not expected to be an attorney-in-training. However, you will be asked to do a substantial amount of independent research in the scholarly and professional resources of the field. You will be called upon to locate court cases relevant to the topics of contracts and torts and to write an analysis for each case.

To help you get your research started, some prominent searchable databases of court cases have been recommended for you in the assessment resources. Try to imagine yourself as either the plaintiff or the defendant in the cases you review, to make these cases more meaningful to your life.

Use the resources provided to familiarize yourself with the legal terminology as early as possible, in order to help you make sense of the legal language found in court cases. The terminology that you will learn in this course will be useful in both a scholarly and everyday context.


Contracts are the heart and soul of commercial transactions. Different types of contracts bind parties together in business dealings. Review contracts that you have signed recently—a lease, an employment agreement, an extended warranty—to examine not only the language but also the scope of these agreements. Examine the language in the contract that outlines how disagreements will be resolved, and the penalties that adhere to either party for breach of the contract.


The first step in preparing your case law analysis is to locate a published court decision and select an organization you believe would be impacted by the decision. 

  • Choose a decision about contracts. To help you get started, use the Capella University Library Legal Research Library Guide and these well-known searchable databases of court cases. Try to imagine yourself as either the plaintiff or the defendant in the cases you read to make these cases meaningful to your life:
  • Select an organization not a party to the case that you believe would be impacted by that court decision. It can be an organization you work for or have worked for, an organization you would like to work for, or some other organization.
  • Use the following media simulations to help you with this assessment:
    • Analyzing a Case.
      • This multimedia walks you through a written court decision and explains each part’s purpose.
    • Business Law Foundational Concepts.
      • This multimedia will help you to understand your reading materials and articles you find.
        • Review the terms or concepts listed under the tabs Foundational Legal Terminology and Contracts and Bankruptcy Terminology. You may start by studying the terminology listed in the Transcript view (click Transcript at the lower right corner of the screen). After you’ve studied the terms, go back to the interactive view, and try matching the terms to their definitions.
          • Use this multimedia to view several approaches to ethical thinking that can be applied to business.
        • In addition to your textbook, use the transcript as another resource to quickly look up some of the more common terms. This terminology will be useful in personal, scholarly, and professional settings.
    • Four Ethical Theories.
      • This multimedia sets forth several approaches to ethical thinking that can be applied to business.

    The Case Analysis Report: Executive Briefing Exemplar [DOCX] shows a sample case law analysis. You may wish to refer to it as you work on your assessment.


Once you have selected a decision and an organization impacted by the decision, assume you’re a senior manager in the organization you selected and that you were asked to prepare an analysis of the court decision and brief the executive team of the organization about the impact the case might have on the company. Your briefing should include a summary of the case, as well as an evaluation of how the court’s decision impacts the organization from a business, legal, and ethical perspective. Be sure to list your case citation in the References page at the end of your briefing.

Step 1: Exhibit information literacy skills as applied to business law.

  • Identify the court, the parties who are before the court, and the date of the decision.
  • Ensure that your briefing provides an accurate context in terms of who brought the lawsuit and the outcome of the case.
  • Report research from a recognized authority that adds insight into the meaning, history, or impact of the case with relevant legal research from credible databases or online sources.

Step 2: Summarize the facts and ruling of a legal case and its impact on businesses.

  • Provide a brief background and context associated with the case. Summarize the facts in no more than 1-2 paragraphs.
  • Identify the specific disagreement between the parties. Was there a dissenting opinion? If so, explain it.
  • Summarize the court’s ruling, including its rationale.
  • Analyze the impact of the case on businesses, including both negative and positive impacts.

Step 3: Explain how the court decision impacts legal and ethical compliance in a business environment.

  • Identify the ethical and legal implications for a business that were suggested by the court’s decision.
  • Discuss whether or not the conduct of a party in the case was ethical or unethical.
  • Propose and explain an ethical theory that describes why a party’s conduct was ethical or unethical.

Step 4: Explain how a legal case could impact a specific organization not a party to the case.

  • Explain the impact of the court’s decision on your selected organization. In light of the court’s ruling, how might the executive team of the organization make future decisions or policy?
Additional Requirements

Based on your executive audience, your executive briefing should be no more than three pages, in addition to a References page, and should be well organized and written in clear, succinct language. Follow APA rules for attributing content to sources that support your analysis and conclusions.

Your submission should meet the following requirements:

  • Written communication: Write in complete sentences free from errors that detract from the overall message.
  • Font and font size: Arial, 12 point.
  • Format and length: Double-spaced, 2-3 pages.
  • Citations: Include complete citations of your sources along with a Resources page. Review Evidence and APA for more information on how to cite your sources.

Review the assessment scoring guide for details on how your assessment will be graded.

Competencies Measured

By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the course competencies through the following assessment scoring guide criteria:

  • Competency 1: Articulate the importance, context, purpose, and relevance of law in a business environment.
    • Summarize the facts and ruling of a legal case and its impact on businesses.
  • Competency 2: Evaluate key judicial concepts that influence the decisions related to business.
    • Explain how the court decision impacts legal and ethical compliance in a business environment.
    • Explain how a legal case could impact a specific organization not a party to the case.
  • Competency 4: Develop information literacy skills as applied to business law.
    • Exhibit information literacy skills as applied to business law.
  • Competency 5: Convey purpose, in an appropriate tone and style, incorporating supporting evidence and adhering to organizational, professional, and scholarly writing standards.
    • Convey purpose, in an appropriate tone and style, incorporating supporting evidence and adhering to organizational, professional, and scholarly writing standards.

Below is a SAMPLE case law analysis for you to use as a guide. You may not use this case (Mayo Collaborative Services vs. Prometheus Laboratories) for either of the two case law analysis assignments because it would be difficult not to plagiarize this analysis and briefing. The SAMPLE applies to the topic of intellectual property law (not to contracts or torts).

Case Law Analysis and Executive Briefing

Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc.

132 S. Ct. 1289 (2012).

Parties: Mayo Collaborative Services and Prometheus Laboratories, Inc.

Court and Date Decided: United States Supreme Court (Decided March 20, 2012)

Background Facts: Prometheus Laboratories sued Mayo Collaborative Services for patent infringement. The drug thiopurine, used for autoimmune disorders, is metabolized differently by different people, making dosing difficult. Prometheus created a process to check the level of the drug in a person’s body. Prometheus obtained a patent for the blood testing process. Mayo was a customer of Prometheus until Mayo decided to create its own measuring process for dosing. Prometheus then proceeded with the lawsuit for infringement. At the federal district court where the trial occurred, the court found that there was patent infringement, but that the patent should not have been granted in the first place because the tests for toxicity are based on natural laws and natural phenomena and are not patentable. On appeal to the circuit court of appeals, the federal circuit reversed, finding that the test was patentable. Lastly, on appeal to the Supreme Court, the court reversed again and found that natural processes cannot be patented because this would inhibit future scientific discovery by “improperly tying up the use of the laws of nature.”

Specific Disagreement and Ruling of the Court

The majority opinion of the court was delivered by Justice Breyer with no dissent. The opinion looked at the law governing what can be patented. It noted that Einstein could not have patented E=MC² and neither could Newton have patented the law of gravity. So, why was this matter even taken to court? Or, perhaps a better question is, why did the appeals court find the toxicity test patentable? The reason is that the existing patent law legal test used by the courts (called the “machine or transformation” test) requires that something be transformed (and not just in its natural state) to receive a patent. The appeals court thought that the human body was changed or transformed when the blood test was administered so the blood could be analyzed. However, the Supreme Court found that the test itself, which is what was patented, did not change the human body. It was only the potentially toxic drug that changed the body, and the test was developed using laws of nature to determine if there was toxicity. The court also discussed that when it comes to patent law, there are always going to be two competing interests: the interest of society to grant patents to incentivize investment of time and money into creating innovative products and processes vs. the interest of society in not tying up natural laws and processes to allow for more innovation by inventors.

Conclusion- Importance to Business Law & Ethical Implications

I agree with this decision. I have long thought that things like genes, for example, should not be patentable because they exist in nature. Neither should math be patentable. However, experts who know a lot more than I do have criticized this decision because it is said to create confusion about just what is patentable subject matter, since evidently there are sometimes patents given to those who have reproduced natural processes (Eisenberg, 2011).

This case has strong application to business because it’s very important to know what is and what is not patentable since businesses invest vast resources into research and development of products and ideas. This case can negatively affect businesses that invest money and talent in analyzing genes only to find they cannot patent genes because they are naturally occurring.  On the other hand, the case can positively affect businesses that use those genes that are naturally occurring, knowing that they will not be infringing on a patent. Our company, Intellia Therapeutics, develops therapies by editing genes (in a way that is not naturally occurring) to heal diseased cells. We might be impacted by this decision because such a product would require a patent in order to be profitable and marketed exclusively. Any attempt to interfere with the ability to patent our products (as Prometheus experienced) would threaten the company’s profitability.  I would recommend that Intellia Therapeutics monitor legal cases regarding patentability of medicines that use biotechnology to ensure their patents are safe from challenges of validity.

I think the parties in the case conducted themselves ethically. Prometheus might have felt that Mayo, its former customer, was stepping on its toes by copying its test, but this is not necessarily unethical because it’s a competitive world out there. According to Teleology Theory, a theory of ethics, no one acted unethically here because this theory judges the morality of an action based on the outcome. Here, the outcome was that the test was not patentable; therefore, Mayo was not doing anything wrong.


Eisenberg, R. S. (2011). Wisdom of the ages or deadhand control? Patentable subject matter for diagnostic methods after In re Bilski. University of Michigan Law Review. text=law_econ_current

Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, 132 U.S. 1289 (2012).

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