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Civil Procedure I
St. Johns University School of Law
Ward, Ettie

Civil Procedure

Etie Ward

Fall 2010


· Is the dispute of the kind capable of resolution by the courts?

o Can only decide cases / controversies (Art. III limitation)

· Jurisdiction:

o Power of the court to affect the legal interests of the parties through the judicial process

· Competence:

o Authority granted to courts by the state to exercise judicial jurisdiction.

o Limits set by legislation / common law

o If court can’t resolve a case, it may dismiss

Frivolous Matters – not a case or controversy

· Georgia HS Association v. Waddell: parents of HS students sue GHSA b/c referee made erroneous call in football game, allegedly depriving students of equal protection rights.

o Case not justiciable

o Wanted court to “fix” erroneous call made by referee


Ø Political Question:

· Issue is linked to separation of powers. Better for another branch of government to solve the issue.

· Cudahy Junior Chamber of Commerce v. Quirk: parties made a bet about the effect of water fluoridation on health. π sued to enforce payment of the debt by ∆

o Case not justiciable

o Legislature should decide whether or not to fluoridate water

o Public policy – court can’t enforce bets

§ Increase litigation (“Which is better: coke or pepsi?”)

Ø Standing:

· Who can sue?

· Must have sufficient stake in controversy

· Lawsuit must be brought by someone w/ a real and legally cognizable injury,

· Constitutional Requirements:

o 1. Case or controversy (required by Art. III)

o 2. Actual/imminent and particularized injury (invasion of plaintiff’s legally protected interest)

o 3. Traceability/ Causation (injury traceable to the action challenged)

o 4. Redressability: not speculative but likely that the court can resolve the issue and provide relief by court action

o 5. No infringement of separation of powers

· Prudential Requirements— We may have jurisdiction (the matter may be justiciable), but as a matter of prudence we’ll defer to another branch of the gov’t or to the State court.

o 1. No 3rd parties (can only assert your own rights)

o 2. No generalized grievance (claim that affects a large number of people in the same way)

o 3. Must fall w/in zone of interest intended to be protected by the law

§ 1. Zone of injury—kind of injury Congress expected might be redressed under statute

§ 2. Zone of interests—type of action statute designed to protect against

· P.O.W.E.R. v. West: π had no standing b/c it didn’t incur an actual and particularized injury; can’t sue on behalf of someone else; cannot sue for a generalized grievance.

Ø Mootness:

· Too late that a court’s decision will no longer affect the rights of the party seeking a remedy.

· Circumstances have changed à complaint is no longer a live complaint, ends legal dispute.

o DeFunis v. Odegaard: π no longer affected because he would receive his law degree anyway

o Exceptions:

1. Capable of repetition yet evading review:

· Type which persons will frequently be faced with a particular situation, but will likely cease to be in a position where the court can provide a remedy for them in the time that it takes for the justice system to address their situation. (e.g., Roe v. Wade.).

· If case is brought by an individual on behalf of himself and not a class of people, he would need to show that there is a reasonable expectation that he will be subject to the same action again.

2. Voluntary cessation of illegal activity

· ∆ may voluntarily stop but is free to “return to it’s old ways”

3. Class actions representatives

· Type that was initiated on behalf of a group of people and represented by π who, after commencement of litigation ceases to be part of the class for which remedy is sought.

Ø Ripeness:

· Is it too early? Is there no cause of action yet?

· Prevents premature adjudication; potential injury too speculative to warrant judicial review.

· No one has suffered an injury or the threat of injury

Advisory Opinions:

· Art. III: federal courts must decide cases or controversies. Cannot decide hypothetical questions

· An advisory opinion does not resolve a specific legal case, but merely advises on the constitutionality or interpretation of law.

· Some state courts are allowed to render advisory opinions: Supreme Judicial Court of MA


· State or federal?

· Federal courts can only hear certain types of cases.

o Federal Court: Court of limited jurisdiction

o State Court: Court of general jurisdiction

· π must Federal SMJ

· Some legal issues are exclusively federal (bankruptcy, copyright infringement, patents)

· Main ways of meeting SMJ:

o 1. Diversity of Citizenship,

o 2. Federal Question,

o Indirect methods (main claim must satisfy Diversity or FQ):

§ 1. Supplemental Jurisdiction,

§ 2. Removal, and

§ 3. Statutory Interpleader


Ø 28 U.S.C. §1332(a)(1) requirements for diversity of citizenship:

o 1. Complete diversity: Case has to be between

§ Parties of different states;

§ Parties from a state v. parties from a different country;

§ Parties from different states w/ a party from a different country on one of the sides; and

§ A foreign country v. a party from a state or different states; and

o 2. The amount in controversy must exceed $75K

Citizens of Different States (six sub rules):

· 1. Complete diversity rule:

o Strawbridge v. Curtiss: NO DIVERSITY if any π is a citizen of the same state as any ∆.

· 2. Test for diversity when the case is filed

o Diversity requirement must be met at the time of filing. Subsequent change in citizenship is irrelevant.

· 3. Define citizenship of a human being.

o An American is a citizen of the state in which she is domiciled.

§ Only one domicile at a time

§ Domicile must be pleaded at filing

· Defining Domicile: Where one resides with intention to remain indefinitely

§ Must be present in the state at the time of establishing domicile

§ Must form the subjective intent to make that State your permanent home.

· Indicia: Where does the person vote? Where does the person file income tax, work, reside, etc.?

· 4. Citizenship of a corporation, defined 1332(c)(1):

o 1. All states where incorporated (usually just one), and

o 2. The state where it has its principal place of business PPB (only one allowed)

§ 1. Defined by the nerve center of the corporation: usually the HQ.

§ 2. Muscle center/ place of activity: where the corporation does most of its activity

§ Approach: Total activities test: look at nerve and muscle center, and try to figure PPB in common sense way. PPB is the nerve center


· We go to federal court b/c that’s where the defendant wants to be. He has been sued in state court and wants to move the case to federal court.

· Applied through 1441, 1446, 1447

· 6 Rules:

o 1. Removal is a one-way street: only goes from state to federal court. File under 1446.

o 2. All defendants must agree to remove, if there are multiple ones

§ Exception: a single defendant can remove if there is a separate/ independent federal question claim against him

o 3. Only defendants can remove

o 4. Remove to federal district embracing the state court where the case was filed. 1441(a).

o 5. Remove w/in 30 days of the cases becoming removable. Cases usually removable at the outset.

§ Murphy Brothers, 1999: plaintiffs sued in state court but did not serve process on the def. Plaintiff faxed complaint to def, told him that they had sued him but were not serving process on def yet—that they would have settlement discussion, which failed. Then the plaintiff had the complaint and summons formally served. At what time does the 30 days period begin to run?

· Supreme Court said that it starts running from formal service.

o 6. You can remove if the case has federal SMJ (most important rule)

§ If that case was brought under diversity or federal question

§ Two exceptions to the rule. Only apply in diversity cases, not in FQ:

· 1. There is no removal if any defendant is a citizen of the forum (even if the case could have been brought under diversity of citizenship). 1441(b). Theory is that since there is an instate defendant, there is no need to provide access to the federal court—there should be no bias in the case.

o Hypo: Plaintiff from TX sues def from AL and Def from NY in NY state court. No removal. If the plaintiff dismisses claim against NY defendant, the case becomes removable.

· 2. You cannot remove a diversity case more than one year after the case was filed in state court. 1446(b).

· Was the original case under a year ago?

o If so, then D can remove it based on diversity

o If not, joining D cannot have it removed (once year expires)

Section E. Interpleader

· Remedy designed to protect stakeholder from multiple payouts.

o 1. Stakeholder does not want to have to settle w/ numerous claimants separately.

o 2. Allows stakeholder to force all claimants to a single lawsuit, if

o 3. The stake has been deposited w/ the court.

o In either, interpleader court can enjoin claimants from litigating elsewhere about the ownership of the property.

o Statutory interpleader would appear to always be better b/c it allows for nationwide service of processà never have a personal jurisdiction problem as long as claimant is in the U.S.

o Rule Interpleader better under one circumstance: