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Civil Procedure I
St. Johns University School of Law
Cavanagh, Edward D.

Edward Cavanagh-Fall 2013

Civil Procedure

I. The Legal System and the Role of Procedure

A. The Adversary System of Justice

1. The parties put their respective best cases forward and judge/jury decides what the facts are

2. Why do people sue?


b) ex. Hawkins v McGee (hairy palm) – P wants D to live up to bargain of a perfect hand, but it can’t be done so he gets money damages

(1) Medical expenses (easy to calculate)

(2) Pain and Suffering (difficult to calculate)

(3) Lost Wages

(4) Loss of future earning

c) Legal Remedies

(1) Money Damages – if jury awards too much, judge can reduce the amount (remittitur)

(2) Specific Performance – if article is unique like Real Estate or a Rembrandt painting

(3) Injunction – court order to do something or not to do something (given only when money damages are not adequate)

(4) Replevin – a writ obtained by the court authorizing the retaking of personal property wrongfully taken or detained

d) Law and Equity

(1) In Common Law courts the remedy was money

(2) Equity Courts grew from Ecclesiastical Courts

(a) Injunctive relief was typically given (cases that could not be solved by money decided here; the remedy of law was not sufficient)

3. Alternative Dispute Resolution

a) Fueled by desire to reduce costs, save time, have experts hear cases and protect privacy

(1) Arbitration – parties agree to be bound by third party arbitrator instead of a judge; typically used in business/labor (binding)

(2) Mediation – parties appoint a third party mediator to listen and suggest decisions; common in business/labor (not binding)

(3) Rent-A-Judge – like Judge Judy and The People’s Court (binding)

(4) Summary Jury Trial (Mock Jury) – jury is called in to hear a summary of the case and they give their recommendation (P can either be bound or proceed to trial – if P gets less at trial, P pays for D’s trial costs)

(5) Mini-Trial – parties summarize and present their cases to neutral expert and a group of management; management then seeks to negotiate a settlement.

4. The Judge’s Responsibility

a) When dealing with the law of a foreign country – the court is authorized but not required to take judicial notice

(1) in Frummer v Hilton – judge decides to grant new trial on basis of whether NY law or English law should apply

– the role of the court is to do the right thing – means involving yourself and making judgments

B. Justiciability

1. The court can only entertain a case that contains a justiciable issue – an issue that has a judicial resolution

2. Courts do not:

a) Hear moot cases (DeFunis v Odegaard – reverse discrimination w/ white law school applicant – case was not moot because the parties put forth their best effort although the decision did not change the result in the case (he was to complete law school that semester regardless of court’s decision)

– Article III, § 2 United States Constitution: Must be a case or controversy

b) Answer political questions (Cudahy v Quirk – fluoridated water)

– Legislature and voters should answer these

c) Entertain friendly suits – where there is no adversarial relationship, i.e. one side finances the entire suit (collusion)

– Article III, § 2 United States Constitution: Must be a case or controversy

– undermines the Adversary System; parties must put forth their best arguments

d) Render advisory opinions – if you are only giving advice you are not faced with a case of controversy and case is not yet ripe, thus issues are not justiciable

e) Rules on referee calls in football (GHSA – parents sue for bad call)

f) Hear cases without standing (POWER – helping poor people vote)


o you must have a stake in the litigation (you’ve been harmed)

o you must be in best position to sue (prudential concern – is it prudent to hear cases when others are in better position to sue?)

II. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

A. Jurisdiction (Adjudicatory Authority) = The Power to Speak the Law

1. Two Types of Jurisdiction: both must be present for a court to hear a case

a) Subject Matter Jurisdiction – the power of the court to hear this kind of case

(1) Objections to subject matter jurisdiction can be brought up at anytime

(2) Cannot be conferred by consent

(3) Cannot waive this right

(4) Decisions rendered without subject matter jurisdiction are invalid and unenforceable

(5) Burden is on the P to plead and prove it (it is a question of fact)

(6) Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction

(7) State courts are courts of general jurisdiction

b) Personal Jurisdiction – the power to speak the law with respect to the parties

(1) Failure to immediately challenge personal jurisdiction = waiver of that right

(2) Jurisdiction over parties may be conferred by consent – Consent may be:

(a) Explicit – parties agree that court has personal jurisdiction

(b) Conferred in advance – i.e., contract for sale/goods

(c) Comp

t, but can’t because they don’t have diversity jurisdiction so what if L2 says he will sue alone and name L1 as a D in the case

(1) you can’t do this 28 USC § 1359 – no diversity by collusion

b) X (CT) v. Y (CT) à X wants to sue in federal court – but he cannot b/c he has no diversity

(1) X then wants to assign the loan to Z, his brother of a different state and have Z sue – cannot do this – it is misrepresentation

c) X (CT) sells his claim to a suit to F (NY) à this is a legitimate business deal

d) X (NY) v. Y(NJ) for child custody in federal court à cannot b/c of domestic relations exception – Ackenbrant v. Richards

C. Interpleader (28 U.S.C. § 1335)

[State Farm v. Tashire – huge bus accident – multiple claimants]

1. Interpleader definition – equitable proceeding brought by disinterested 3rd party (e.g., insurance co.) to have a court determine the ownership rights of rival claimants to the same property held by that 3rd party – two types available in federal courts: Federal Rule 22 or Federal Statute § 1335. § 1335 is operative and more commonly used.

a) Value of property must be $500 or more

b) Two or more adverse claimants only are needed, of diverse citizenship (does not need to be complete diversity between P and D) – only need minimal diversity

c) P deposited money/property in court registry

D. Federal Question Jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. § 1331)

1. “[A]ll civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”

a) It is not sufficient for the P to anticipate a federal question in D’s defense (Louisville & Nashville RR v Mottley)

b) Well-pleaded complaint rule – issue of federal law/right must appear on the face of a complaint à is the P enforcing a federal right? If yes, then it is a federal question case

c) There is no jurisdictional amount requirement and citizenship is also irrelevant

E. Supplemental Jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. §1367) [eventually Pendant and Ancillary are all combined under this one heading]