Case Analysis, IRAC & Impact
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Facts of the case
Two hours after Hannah Bruesewitz received her six-month diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine in 1992, she started developing seizures and was hospitalized for weeks. Hannah has continued to suffer from residual seizure disorder that requires her to receive constant care, according to her parents. When their daughter was three-years-old, Russell and Robalee Bruesewitz filed a petition seeking compensation for her injuries. One month prior to the petition, new regulations eliminated Hannah’s seizure disorder from the list of compensable injuries. The family’s petition was denied. Three years later, in 1998, the drug company Wyeth withdrew the type of vaccine used in Hannah’s inoculation from the market.
The Bruesewitzes filed a lawsuit against Wyeth in state court in Pennsylvania. They claimed the drug company failed to develop a safer vaccine and should be held accountable for preventable injuries caused by the vaccine’s defective design. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act protected Wyeth from lawsuits over vaccine injury claims. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit affirmed.
Can a federal law shield vaccine manufacturers from certain product liability lawsuits in state court that seek damages for serious health problems suffered by children?
6–2 decision majority opinion by Antonin Scalia
Plaintiffs are entitled to seek compensation for such injury or death by filing a timely claim in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which holds special jurisdiction over such cases.
Yes. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court decision in an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia. The majority reasoned that Congress had set up a special vaccine court as a way to provide compensation to injured children without driving drug manufacturers from the vaccine market. Justice Stephen Breyer filed a concurring opinion. Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Elena Kagan took no part in consideration of the case.
- Do NOT write in PARAGRAPHS.
- For each section of the assignment, write BULLET POINTS in CLEAR & CONCISE SENTENCES.
– Do NOT use RUN-ON SENTENCES. Make it SHORT & TO THE POINT!!!
- Your 4.APPLICATION section should be the most detailed. Write at least THREE TIMES as much information for the 4.APPLICATION section compared to any of the other sections.
- Read through the BELOW GUIDANCE on HOW to apply the IRAC method and various sections. Follow the guidance VERY CLOSELY.
- Make sure to read the summary AND the court’s opinion. Directly quote facts from the court’s opinion. You HAVE to read the Court’s Opinion because that is where you will get most of your information!!!
- There are EIGHT different sections. So I expect to EIGHT sections in this written assignment. Remember, explain everything in BULLET POINTS!!
- Facts — Lay out the facts of the case.
- Issue — what are the key facts and issues?
Suppose that a plaintiff comes before the court claiming assault (words or acts that wrongfully and intentionally make another person fearful of immediate physical harm—see Chapter 12). The plaintiff claims that the defendant threatened her while she was sleeping. Although the plaintiff was unaware that she was being threatened, her roommate heard the defendant make the threat. The legal issue is whether the defendant’s action constitutes the tort (civil wrong) of assault, given that the plaintiff was unaware of that action at the time it occurred.
- Rule — what rules of law apply to the case?
A rule of law may be a rule stated by the courts in previous decisions, a state or federal statute, or a state or federal administrative agency regulation. In our hypothetical case, the plaintiff alleges (claims) that the defendant committed a tort. Therefore, the applicable law is the common law of torts—specifically, tort law governing assault (see Chapter 12). Case precedents involving similar facts and issues thus would be relevant. Often, more than one rule of law will be applicable to a case.
- Application — how do the rules of law apply to the particular facts and circumstances of this case?
- EXPLAIN WHAT LAWS THE PLAINTIFF WAS UTILIZING TO PLEAD THEIR CASE AND EXPLAIN HOW THAT LAW IS APPLIED TO THIS PARTICULAR CASE AND WRITE IN DETAIL HOW AT LEAST 3 x PIECES OF FACTS IN THE CASE RELATES TO THAT PARTICULAR LAW.
- THEN, EXPLAIN WHAT LAWS THE DEFENDANT WAS UTILIZING TO DEFEND THEIR CASE AND EXPLAIN HOW THAT LAW IS APPLIED TO THIS PARTICULAR CASE AND WRITE IN DETAIL HOW AT LEAST 3 x PIECES OF FACTS RELATES TO THAT PARTICULAR LAW.
- FINALLY, EXPLAIN WHAT LAWS THE COURT WAS REFERENCING IN EXPLAINING THEIR DECISION AND EXPLAIN HOW THAT LAW IS APPLIED TO THIS PARTICULAR CASE AND WRITE IN DETAIL HOW AT LEAST 3 x PIECES OF FACTS IN THE CASE RELATES TO THAT PARTICULAR LAW. (THIS IS WHERE YOU HAVE TO READ THE COURT’S OPINION!!)
– MENTION AT LEAST 3 x PIECE OF FACTS FOR THE PLAINTIFF’S SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT.
– MENTION AT LEAST 3 x PIECE OF FACTS FOR THE DEFENDANT’S SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT.
– MENTION AT LEAST 3 x PIECE OF FACTS FOR WHY THE COURT MADE THE DECISION IT DID.
– MAKE SURE YOU REFERENCE THE PARTICULAR LAW THAT RELATS TO THAT PARTICULAR FACT.
This step is often the most difficult because each case presents a unique set of facts, circumstances, and parties. Although cases may be similar, no two cases are ever identical in all respects. Normally, judges (and lawyers and law students) try to find cases on point—previously decided cases that are as similar as possible to the one under consideration. (Because of the difficulty—and importance—of this step in the legal reasoning process, we discuss it in more detail in the next subsection.)
- Conclusion — what conclusion should be drawn?
This step normally presents few problems. Usually, the conclusion is evident if the previous three steps have been followed carefully.
- Impact Of The Decision — Explain ONE case that DIRECTLY cited Bruesewitz v. Wyeth Inc. and what WHAT CONTEXT was Bruesewitz v. Wyeth Inc. was cited.
- Explain why a business professional would care about the Bruesewitz v. Wyeth Inc. decision and how it has DIRECTLY changed the way business operates.
– In other words, mention the ruling from the Bruesewitz v. Wyeth Inc. and mention why the business professional would care.
- Explain TWO current business practices that has been DIRECTLY influenced by the Bruesewitz v. Wyeth Inc. decision.
– In other words, talk about TWO DIFFERENT business practices today and DIRECTLY make a comparison on how that business practice conforms to the result of the Bruesewitz v. Wyeth Inc. decision.