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Civil Procedure II
Quinnipiac University School of Law
Abbott, Melanie Beth

Civil Procedure 2
Abbott
Spring 2012
 
Pre-Erie case:
o   Swift v. Tyson: held that federal courts exercising jurisdiction on the ground of diversity of citizenship need not, in matters of general jurisprudence, apply the unwritten law of the state as declared by its highest court (rules of decisions act).
o   Policy: need to have consistency across the federal courts.
§  fed court adopted interpretation of what the “bill of exchange” meant and wanted it to be interpreted consistently across the country (facilitate interstate business etc)
o    establish a clear difference btw state and fed courts and avoid forum shopping (horizontal)
·         Erie RR v. Tompkins
o   Facts: Under Penn case law (the applicable law since the accident occurred there), state courts would have treated T as a trespasser in denying him recovery for other than wanton or willful misconduct on Erie's part. Under “general” law, recognized in federal courts, T would have been regarded as a licensee and would only have been obligated to show ordinary neg. B.c Erie was a NY corporation, Tompkins brought suit in a federal district court in New York, where he won a judgment for $30,000. Upon appeal to a federal circuit court, the decision was affirmed. SC held penn law applied
o   Holding: Fed d.c was bound to follow Penn case law. There is no such thing as federal CL. Must look at state precedent and statue.
o   Rule: Federal court sitting in diversity in a state has to follow the law in the state in which they are sitting. Have to use state statues if they exist and if there isn’t one- have to look at what the state could have required (this includes conflicts of law rules of the state)
o   Overview: Big impact on forum shopping and inequitable administration of the law
§  Attempts to ground reasoning in Constitutional analysis so congress can’t change it by reinterpreting the statue.  Where fed court may apply their own rules of procedure, issues of substantive law must be decided by state law but substance v. procedure isn’t really mentioned
o   Reed concurrence: seems to think the vague con reasoning makes sense from a policy prospective so it can’t be easily changed.
·         Is there really no such thing as federal common law?
o   There are common law decisions that have been rendered exclusively by fed courts in sub matter jurs also situations where congress leaves gaps in laws in which it is reasonable for fed law to fill in the gaps.  But Eire says court should follow some law that exists.
 
o   Klaxon co v. Stentor court must apply the conflicts laws of the forum state in which its sitting. Ex in Erie NY state would have used pa law b.c that’s where the accident took place
·         Policy:
·         Erie court wanted to deter forum shopping and inequitable results.
·         Fed courts aren’t at liberty to make up things that are typically state law (family law tort law) if it hasn’t been decided on yet & the case is a diversity one the fed court  must get the law from: all available & relevant sources try to predict how the state SC would decide OR abstain from ruling at all.
                                                              i.      Guaranty Trust Co. v. York
1.       Issue: Does a statue of lim, which would bar a suit in state court, also act as a bar to the same action if the suit is brought in equity in fed court and jurisdiction being based on diversity citizenship?
2.       Holding: A statue of lim which would bar a suit in state court may also act as a bar in the same action if the suit is brought in equity in fed court and jur based on diversity
a.        Used outcome determinative test-> Where there is going to be an impact on the outcome of the case state law should apply (want consistent results) (although what is outcome determinative really mean? Remedy could matter- ppl will forum shop based on this*  argue)
b.      Court in Erie doesn’t decide on procedural v. substantive- here the court applies a different standard
3.       Overview: Court not dealing w. an easily identified problem- not a clear distinction btw state and fed law. Here clear state law, but on fed side it is possible fed courts could have treated it as arising from equity. Not clear state law v. clear fed law. So outcome determine test-> if you are going to get a diff result using the state approach than you would w. fed- use state approach. (Not all the helpful in the sense that there are lots of things that aren’t substantive legal issues that would affect the outcome)
                                                            ii.      Byrd v. Blue Ridge Rural Elective Cooperative
1.       Issue: Whether the evidence in support of the AD presented a jury issue, became irrelevant b.c of the interpretation given (the state statue) by the trial judge/ whether on remand the factual issue is to be decided by the judge or by the jury?
2.       Facts: On state side have a reference in state SC which indicated one expected outcome but doesn’t have strong indication of support of a state-based policy. On fed side there is the Con determination that certain ?’s are to be decided by jury (here it isn’t that type of ?) so the fed court cant mandate that but it is an important fed policy so much so that it is an amendment.
a.       If you have a statutory mandate where u are- court will have to follow that- even if you have fed policy to the contrary- only time there’s an issue is when not clear (expressions of important on both sides. Fed con mandate will trump anything- then state con mandate.
3.       Rule: Erie doctrine requires that fed courts in diversity cases must respect the definitions of rights and obligations created by state courts, but state laws cannot alter the essential characteristics and functions of the fed courts, and the jury function is such an essential function (provided by the 7th amendment)
a.       Outcome determinative test: This isn’t an outcome determinative question- Judge or Jury could decide for either. That test doesn’t really work here. Look at policy & relative importance of policy
b.      Direct conflict is fed rule v. state rule or fed con v. state con- Policy is not a direct conflict
b.      De-Constitutionalizing Erie
                                                              i.      Hanna v. Plumer
1.       Issue: Whether, in a civil action where the jurisdiction of the US district court is based upon diversity of citizenship btw the parties, service of process shall be made in the manner prescribed by state law (personal) or that set fourth Rule 4 (2) (2) (B) of the fed rules of procedure.
2.       Holding: Adoption of rule 4 designed to control service of process in diversity actions, neither exceed the congressional mandate embodied in the Rules Enabling Act nor transgressed constitutional grounds, and that the Rule is therefore the standard against which the District Court should have measured the adequacy of service.
3.       Direct conflict btw state procedural statue v. fed procedure court is looking through for procedural history. Want fed courts to be consistent & use fed rules of civ pro. By now state sub- fed procedure
4.       Rule: Erie mandates fed courts are to apply state substantive law and fed procedural law but where matters fall roughly btw the 2 and are rationally capable of classification as either, the Constitution grants the fed court system the power to regulate their practice and pleading (procedure)
5.       SC says: Have to go back full circle to the policies underlying Erie. (Forum shopping, inequitable administration of law)
6.       Horizontal v. vertical consistency argument?
a.       Going to have horizontal consistency btw the fed court procedurally.
b.      Going to have vertical consistency substantively of the fed law and state law in that state
c.       Basic concern here: What kind of di

entitlement to prevail could be established by affidavit or testimony at a trial.
                                       ·            Issue: Whether Doe could show w/o contradicting any of the complaint's allegations, that Smith captured a “wire, oral, or electronic communication.” – Yes
             §   Whether Smith “intercepted” the oral communication
                                                                           ·            Doe may be able to show that Smith made the recording for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act
                                       ·            Holding: Judgment is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion
        o     Most common instance of a plaintiff pleading herself out of court is the plaintiff who alleges dates in her complaint that show her claims to be time barred by the statute of limitations – 8(c)(1)
V.            The (Still) Evolving Standard of Plausible Pleading
        o     Court stated in Bell Atlantic Corp v. Twombly:
                                       ·            Stating such a claim calls for enough fact to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of illegal agreement
                                       ·            Rule 8(a)(2) requires that the “plain statement” possess enough heft to show that the pleader is entitled to relief
                                       ·            A wholly conclusory statement of claim would survive a motion to dismiss whenever the pleadings left open the possibility that a plaintiff might later establish some set of undisclosed facts to support recovery
        o     Ashcroft v. Iqbal
                                       ·            Twombly adopted a flexible plausibility standard that did not apply to the context of Iqbal's complaint, and that his pleading was adequate to allege petitioners' personal involvement in discriminatory decisions that, if true, violated clearly established constitutional law
                                       ·            IV (A)
             §   Two working principles underlie the decision in Twombly:
             §   First: The tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations containted in a complaint is applicable to legal conclusions
             §   Second: Only a complaint that states a plausible relief survives a motion to dismiss
                                                                           ·            Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense
                                                                           ·            While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint they must be supported by factual allegations
                                                                           ·            When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief