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Contract Law Case Analysis

Contract Law Case Analysis

Parties: United States federal government v. Winstar Corporation and other Loans and Savings Associations

Court and Date Decided:  United States Supreme Court (July 01, 1996)

Background Facts: According to Cramer (1998), the United States versus Winstar Corp. case arose from a conflict between the United States federal government and a group of savings and loan associations, including the Winstar Corp. Winstar Corp and other loans and savings and loans organizations brought the case forward. The case was argued on April 24, 1996, and the final decision was delivered on July 1, 1996, by the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Winstar Corporation and other loans and savings private organizations, affirming the government’s liability for breach of contract with private business organizations.

Facts and Ruling of the Legal Case and Its Impact on Businesses

The case originated from a savings and loans crisis in the 1980s and early 1990s (Cramer, 1998). Due to the financial crisis, many loans and savings associations faced insolvency due to their risky lending practices, fluctuations in interest rates, and unexpected changes in federal regulations. To save the situation, the government implemented new regulations to stabilize the situation. However, the new regulations led to unintended consequences for savings and loan associations such as Winstar Corporation and other thrifts. The new regulation effectively alleviated benefits the government had promised the organization and others for their participation in government-sponsored programs.

Specifically, the Winstar Corporation and other thrifts had entered into an agreement that gave them favorable accounting treatment. The associations were allowed to treat the future regulatory capital as part of their assets (Cramer, 1998). However, the new government regulations changed this accounting doctrine, leading to significant losses for the savings and loan associations. These associations wanted the court to determine that the government had contravened its contractual obligations.

The court’s ruling was in favor of savings and loan associations. As per the Supreme Court’s decision, the government had breached contract terms with savings and loan associations. The Supreme Court ordered the government to pay for damages due to the losses. Subsequently, the federal government and thrifts agreed on significant settlements.

The United States vs Winstar Corp. case had positive and negative impacts on business. One of the positive impacts is that it provided clarity on how the government enters contracts with private entities. In the future, the government will have to practice contractual clarity and transparency. The government had to be accountable for its contractual promises.

On the flip side, the case negatively impacted operations by financial institutions as it highlighted the risks of financial institutions working with the government. Players in the banking industry became cautious about their engagement with the government. In the long run, this would affect financial innovation and development. The case also set a precedent about government liability in contractual agreements. As a result, it was now challenging for the government to enter into contracts with private businesses since it would be held liable for agreements made by its agencies.

The Impact of the Court Decision on Ethical and Legal Compliance in a Business Environment

The United States versus Winstar Corp case raised key ethical concerns on the government’s regulatory responsibility. In particular, there was a call for the government to stick to contractual agreements (Citron, 2002). Changing agreement terms without involving the other participants in the contract was frowned upon by the court. Besides, the case emphasized that the government cannot be excused if it violates contractual agreements with private entities. Even if government actions that violate contractual agreements are done for the public good, the government cannot be excused from its responsibility of respecting contracts.

Ethical violation is evidenced by the government’s decision to turn back on its promises. Even if the change of regulations was necessary, the government should have spared organizations with which it had made agreements (Citron, 2002). The government failed in its transparency obligation. The ethical theory that aligns with the case is ethical utilitarianism. Utilitarianism theory helps understand the moral bearing of actions by analyzing their consequences (Burgess, 2005). Winstar Corp. vs government case shows that the government was unethical since it reneged on its contractual agreements with loans and savings associations.

Impact of the Case on JP Morgan Chase

Like any other financial institution, JP Morgan is affected by how the government interacts with the regulated industry. The court decision suggested that companies like JP Morgan Chase must be cautious when engaging the government. There is a need for due diligence to prevent the possibility of government agencies turning back on their contractual obligations (Citron, 2002). In the future, the company should pursue clear contractual agreements when dealing with government agencies. There should be legally binding promises that such agencies will respect agreements even if there are regulation changes.


In summary, the Winstar versus United States government case underscored the importance of the government honoring contractual agreements. Private businesses, on the other hand, should conduct due diligence before entering into agreements with the government. Contracts are legally binding, and any breach by any parties can lead to legal suits.


Burgess, D. (2005). Utilitarianism, game theory, and the social contract. Macalester Journal of Philosophy14(1), 7.

Citron, R. D. (2002). Lessons from the damages decisions following United States v. Winstar Corp. Pub. Cont. LJ32, 1.

Cramer, M. T. (1998). Contracts written in stone: An examination of United States v. Winstar Corp. Pepperdine Law Review25(2), 4.


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Contract Law Case Analysis

Contract Law Case Analysis

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.

If you have never researched or read court cases before, you may find it unusual at first. The purpose of this assignment is to:

Give you the opportunity to research and investigate a real court decision.
It challenges you to think about the business implications of the case and particularly how the case will impact a specific organization.
Challenge you to evaluate the role of contracts in commercial transactions.
Give you the opportunity to learn key judicial concepts that influence business decisions.
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. In your briefing, you must be able to understand the court’s decision, summarize it, and evaluate it. You may choose any business-related court case, either state or federal, as long as it is relevant to contract law. Be sure it is a case where the court is called on to decide a question of contract law. To help you get started, use the Capella University Library Legal Research Library GuideLinks to an external site. 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.
The United States Supreme Court Cases.Links to an external site.
LII: Supreme Court: Most Recent DecisionsLinks to an external site.
Legal Topics.Links to an external site.
Oyez, Inc.Links to an external site.
Select an organization that is not a party to the case and 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 these resources to help you with this assignment:
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 the reading materials and articles you find.
Click Transcript. (After you open the multimedia, the Transcript link is located at the lower right corner of the screen.)
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] Download 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 assignment.

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 assignment.

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 policies?
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.

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