Dr. Patrick Ryan

Case Analysis Paper


Due: December 12 - submit through OWL

Length: 1,200-1,500 words

Format and Style: All papers must be typed, double-spaced.  Please utilize footnotes using the Chicago/Turabian style.

You can access guidelines for Chicago/Turabian footnotes here.

A free version of Strunk & White, The Elements of Style provides sound writing advice.

It is impractical to offer email consultations on your essays.  If you need assistance, please visit me in DL 127 during my office hours or talk to me during or after class.

Steps for your Paper:

Prior to our individual meetings on Monday-Tuesday November 19/20, complete the first three steps:

1. CHOOSE A CASE from the list below. 

2. DOWNLOAD & READ a copy of the court report or opinion - the primary document.

3. RESEARCH & READ:  Construct a 3-source annotated bibliography of historical and legal analysis (secondary sources) that deal with your case/statute and its area of law.  Annotations should be between three and four lines that summarize  the source's usefulness.

4. MEET IN NOVEMBER:  On Nov. 19 or 20, each student will meet with me individually to review their progress on the paper.  This meeting will stand in lieu of class on Wednesday November 21. 

5. PRODUCE:  Write your paper utilizing the primary document and the 3 secondary sources from your bibliography.  Due Dec. 12, 2018.

Use the following headings and word counts in your paper:

1. THESIS:  Begin with a one paragraph statement of your overall interpretation of the significance of the case. (100 words)

2. LEGALLY RELEVANT FACTS:  Summarize the facts of the case in one paragraph. (100 words)

3. LEGAL QUESTION & ARGUMENTS: Phrase the issue before the court (what the court took it to be) in the form of a question, and explain the contending arguments in no more than 250 words. 

4. RULING OR ANSWER:  Summarize the ruling (or answer to the question) and its immediate implications in no more than 150 words. 

5. SIGNIFICANCE (Mainbody Argument):  Use between 600-900 words to explain the historical significance of the ruling for the shape of capitalism (ownership, transferability, measurability, and markets) and/or the persistent issues (e.g. commodification, competition, equity, and consolidation) it highlights. What does this case reveal or help us understand about capitalism?

6. CONCLUSION:  One paragraph that reiterates the thesis in light of the main-body of your argument.

Choose one of these Landmark Cases

CONTRACTS:  Slade v. Morley (1602) or Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. (1892)

PATENTS & MONOPOLIES: The Case of Monopolies (Darcy v. Allein, 1599) or Liardet v. Johnson (1778) or Lowell v. Lewis (1817)

CORPORATIONS: Salmon v. The Hamborough (1671) or Trustees of Dartmouth College v Woodward (1819) or Santa Clara County v. So. Pacific Railroad Company (1889)

THE RELATIONS OF LABOUR: Commonwealth v. Hunt (MA, 1842) or Lochner v. New York (1902) or Loewe v. Lawlor (1908)


Essay Comment Abbreviations:

*These are the ways I have traditionally marked papers (with pen in hand), and will attempt to approximate this system when reading your electronic submissions.  I am currently learning how to operate in this environment, and hope to be able to returned edited, marked, e-copies to you.


SP = spelling error

WC = a questionable word choice; meaning obscure

WW = wrong word

GR = major grammatical problems with the sentences

RD = Redundancy needs to be removed

AWK = awkward sentence structure or phrase


LFW = Logic Flow Weak - links between sentences are unclear or weak - point obscured

TR = transitional sentences needed to link paragraphs or sentences

= new paragraph, or better paragraph organization, needed

No Block = shorten quotation or remove block quotation

Space = what are these extra spaces or margins doing here?

Arrows indicate the position or area of the text where the comment applies


Q or QU = the question you are supposed to be answering; usually refers to a departure from it

EV = evidence needed to support point

CITE = citation needed for evidence

NO = you have made a significant factual error

? or Huh = what do you mean?; don't get what you're saying

EXG = you have exaggerated the facts or you need to qualify this point

|| = good point

 = excellent point

Evaluation Chart



Handling the Question


Meaning & Analysis

Errors of fact or grammar


insightful and penetrating

nuanced and delicate

fulsome & convincing throughout

brilliant, creative, or ingenious

free of errors; gracefully written


clear and concise, well developed

complete command of the issue or assignment

relevant throughout

excellent logical flow, completely persuasive 

crisply written


clear and complete 

basic understanding of the issue or assignment

all major points supported

only minor weaknesses in logical flow or interpretation

clearly written with no major blunders

D & F

not entirely comprehensible, or failing to deal with issue

lacks basic understanding of the issue or assignment

lacks evidence for major parts of the thesis

major misinterpretations, shallow or illogical claims

blunders or incoherence