HERE AN EXAMPLE
Example: Beller v. Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County,
703 F.3d 388 (7th Cir. 2012)
Plaintiffs brought this suit on behalf of Joshua Beller against defendant Health
and Hospital Corp. of Marion County d/b/a Wishard Memorial Hospital (“Wishard”)
for violations of EMTALA. The trial court ruled for Wishard on summary judgment,
and plaintiffs bring this appeal.
Welch called 911 for complications to a pregnancy and a Wishard ambulance
was dispatched to her. The paramedics determined that she needed transport to a
hospital. She was transported first to the nearest hospital which did not have OB
facilities, so she was transferred to a second hospital. By the time they arrived at the
second hospital the baby had sustained permanent injuries.
HHS regulations provide that an individual “comes to” the hospital emergency
room when they arrive at property owned and operated by that hospital. This includes
ambulances. Wishard owned the ambulance, but it was operated according to EMS
Did the plaintiffs “come to the emergency room” when they were transported
in the Wishard ambulance?
No. Although they were in an ambulance owned by the hospital, it was not
operated by the hospital, and therefore the plaintiffs had not “come to” the Wishard
Student McStudentface BUSI 4370-XX
Professor Biggs 6/1/2020
HHS has promulgated regulations defining the terms in EMTALA, first in
2001 and again in 2003. The 2001 definition was somewhat ambiguous about what it
meant to “come to” the hospital, and the appellants argued that being present in an
ambulance owned by Wishard was sufficient. Both parties agree that under the 2003
definition the appellants did not “come to” the hospital.
The incident occurred in 2001, so the appellants argued that the 2001
definition should apply. Wishard argued that the 2003 definition was merely a
clarification, not a substantive change, and that the law had always been that a
patient “came to” a hospital only if they were in an ambulance both owned and
controlled by the hospital.
The Court agreed with Wishard because the 2003 definition merel
Your submission should be a .pdf, .doc, or .docx document. It should be double
spaced and have 1-inch margins. The Times New Roman font is strongly disfavored
by most higher courts and it therefore should not be used in this course. Submissions
should instead be in Century (the font required for submissions to the Supreme
Court of the United States) or Century Schoolbook.
DETAILED TEMPLATE INSTRUCTIONS
The following is a more detailed description of what each section should
The name of the case and the citation should appear at the top of your brief.
The name and citation need to conform with proper legal style. This means that
name should be in italics and should be followed immediately by the citation which
is not italicized. Proper legal citations follow the Bluebook format which is outlined
on page 18 of your textbook. The proper names and citations are contained on the
first page of this document, so you may wish to copy them exactly as they appear on
This section should be a brief summary in your own words of how this case
came to be before this court. You are welcome to use a paragraph, list, or bullet point
format for the “Procedure” section of the brief. If using paragraph format the content
can usually be summarized in 1-3 sentences.
Example for a trial court: “Blackacre, the plaintiff, brought this case for
wrongful death against Dredd, the defendant, in the Federal District Court for
Example for an appeals court: “Blackacre, the plaintiff, brought this wrongful
death case against Dredd, the defendant, in the federal district court for Kentucky.
The trial court ruled for Dredd, so Blackacre appealed to the Federal Court of
Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.”
State the facts of the case in your own words. Indicate which facts are
operative, and which bear on the issues to be decided. Do not just repeat the judge’s
words. Be Brief. Often a sign of how well you understand the case is your ability to
identify the relative importance of facts and eliminate those that don’t affect the
outcome from the brief. Some cases may have many extraneous facts that do not
need to be in your brief. Most certainly, some facts will be more important than
others. Your task is to frame the problem by describing the facts that count, the ones
that matter. You are welcome to use paragraph, list, or bullet point format for the
“Facts” section of the brief.
Issue spotting is the skill of recognizing in the facts a pattern that implies a
certain type of issue. For instance, facts that describe two people both claiming
ownership rights over a chair should spotlight an issue of ownership of personal
property. In reading cases, often the parties and the court do this work for you by
outright stating, “The issue in this case is…” but this will not always be the case.
For a case based on a trial court decision ask yourself what issue the trial
court found most persuasive in making the ruling it made. For a case based on an
appeals court decision ask yourself what legal questions are posed by the appealing
party. The appealing party is alleging that an error of law was made. What is that
error? What question is the court answering? Sometimes a court will see the issue
differently than the parties and present a different twist on the issue.
State the issue cleanly and crisply. Avoid stating it in technical or procedural
terms. I prefer you state the issue as a question that can be answered with a yes or
Example: “Is a charge nurse a supervisor within the meaning of the National
Labor Relations Act if they can issue write-ups for other employees?” (This example
is drawn from NLRB v. Lakepointe Senior Care & Rehab Ctr. LLC, p. 167 of your
What is the ruling by the court? Who won? Answering these questions forces
you to identify the outcome of the case. You must understand the procedural setting
enough to know what happens as a result of the decision. For instance, if the court
rules “in favor of the appellants,” what does this mean? More importantly, how did
the court decide the issue? What rule of law is provided by the case?
Your holding should begin with a “Yes” or “No” answer to the question posed
by the issue and then explain, in 1-3 sentences, the most essential reason why the
court made its decision. Finally, state the party that the court ruled in favor of.
Example: “Yes. The write-ups invariably lead to discipline and the charge
nurses are exercising independent judgment. This is sufficient for treatment as a
supervisor.” (Again, this result is drawn from NLRB v. Lakepointe Senior Care &
Rehab Ctr. LLC).
The length of each part of the case brief is not be evenly distributed. In fact,
most sections should be only 1-3 sentences long. The rationale section is usually the
longest section. In the rationale section you explain why the court ruled the way
that it did. This means that you need to describe the court’s reasoning, sometimes
even quoting the court’s choice of words. You must also explain which facts the court
depended upon and which ones it discounted or ignored. You should also note what
prior decisions it looked at and whether it chose to follow them, overrule them, or
differentiate them. The court might also interpret or cite particular statutes or other
laws in reaching its decision. Finally, notice whether the court relies upon public
policy to reach its decision. Thus, the potential components to a court’s rationale
• Facts: which ones were dispositive and which ones not
• Prior cases that were followed, differentiated, or overruled
• Statutory law and how it was interpreted
• Public policy principles
Your task is to organize these components and explain how the court used
them to reach its decision. You are trying to find the precedent (or legal principle)
that may flow from this case. The legal principle is the “why” of the decision, not the
“what.” This is very important, as unless you can determine the why of a case, it is
very difficult to use the case to predict the outcome of similar disputes when they
In the NLRB v. Lakepointe Senior Care & Rehab Ctr. LLC case I have been
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