Case brief on the Paquete Habana
Write a brief summary of the facts as the court found them to be. Eliminate facts that are not relevant
to the court’s analysis. For example, a business’s street address is probably not relevant to the court’s
decision of the issue of whether the business that sold a defective product is liable for the resulting
injuries to the plaintiff. However, suppose a customer who was assaulted as she left its store is suing
the business. The customer claims that her injuries were the reasonably foreseeable result of the
business’s failure to provide security patrols. If the business is located in an upscale neighborhood, then
perhaps it could argue that its failure to provide security patrols is reasonable. If the business is located
in a crime-ridden area, then perhaps the customer is right. Instead of including the street address in the
case brief, you may want to simply describe the type of neighborhood in which it is located. (Note: the
time of day would be another relevant factor in this case, among others).
Procedural History*
What court authored the opinion: The United States Supreme Court? The California Court of Appeal?
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals? (Hint: Check under the title of the case: The Court and year of the
decision will be given). If a trial court issued the decision, is it based on a trial, or motion for summary
judgment, etc.? If an appellate court issued the decision, how did the lower courts decide the case?
What is the question presented to the court? Usually, only one issue will be discussed, but sometimes
there will be more. What are the parties fighting about, and what are they asking the court to decide?
For example, in the case of the assaulted customer, the issue for a trial court to decide might be
whether the business had a duty to the customer to provide security patrols. The answer to the
question will help to ultimately determine
whether the business is liable for negligently failing to provide security patrols: whether the defendant
owed plaintiff a duty of care, and what that duty of care is, are key issues in negligence claims.

Determine what the relevant rules of law are that the court uses to make its decision. These rules will
be identified and discussed by the court. For example, in the case of the assaulted customer, the
relevant rule of law is that a property owner’s duty to prevent harm to invitees is determined by
balancing the foreseeability of the harm against the burden of preventive measures. There may be
more than one relevant rule of law to a case: for example, in a negligence case in which the defendant
argues that the plaintiff assumed the risk of harm, the relevant rules of law could be the elements of
negligence, and the definition of “assumption of risk” as a defense. Don’t just simply list the cause of
action, such as “negligence” as a rule of law: What rule must the court apply to the facts to determine
the outcome?
This may be the most important portion of the brief. The court will have examined the facts in light of
the rule, and probably considered all “sides” and arguments presented to it. How courts apply the rule
to the facts and analyze the case must be understood in order to properly predict outcomes in future
cases involving the same issue. What does the court consider to be a relevant fact given the rule of
law? How does the court interpret the rule: for example, does the court consider monetary costs of
providing security patrols in weighing the burden of preventive measures? Does the court imply that if
a business is in a dangerous area, then it should be willing to bear a higher cost for security? Resist the
temptation to merely repeat what the court said in analyzing the facts: what does it mean to you?
Summarize the court’s rationale in your own words. If you encounter a word that you do not know, use
a dictionary to find its meaning.
What was the final outcome of the case? In one or two sentences, state the court’s ultimate finding.
For example, the business did not owe the assaulted customer a duty to provide security patrols

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