Civil Procedure: Fall 2015 – Professor Sovern
Table of Contents
Justiciability & Standing
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Pleadings and Motions
Justiciability and Standing
Justiciability – whether a case is suitable for resolution by a court
Adversary system – based on the concept that parties themselves are better advocates for their best cases than a neutral party (i.e.: judge) because the best possible arguments lead to the best possible decisions.
Proceeds on assumption that if both parties want it badly enough, they’ll give it their all
Con: Personal biases of advocates can interfere; unequal quality of representation
Mootness – Article 3 §2 of Constitution
Case and Controversy Requirement
Must have a case or controversy, otherwise the matter is moot
Pregnancy cases, because litigation may take longer than the term of the pregnancy
The reason for the claim ceases to exist
However, if the party stops acting in a bad manner, might not declare a case moot because the negative action could begin again
Want to ensure that parties have a stake in the outcome to ensure that the adversarial system functions
If a case is moot, would parties care who wins? Devote resources to making the best arguments? Would it lead to the best result/ultimate law?
Standing – does the plaintiff have sufficient personal stake in the outcome of the case to justify entering into the claim?
Cudahy, Eisenhower, Frummer
Article III Test
Did the plaintiff suffer an actual or threatened injury?
Can the injury be fairly traced to the defendant?
Would a favorable federal court decision likely redress the injury?
Are the prudential considerations satisfied?
Plaintiff cannot assert a third party’s rights
Exception: Griswold v. Connecticut – Doctor allowed to assert rights of his patients by arguing that contraceptives could not constitutionally be made a crime, because otherwise he might have been convicted of being an accessory to criminal conduct of contraceptive use.
Contraceptives violated state law
Doctor was giving advice regarding contraceptives to his patients
No abstract questions of general public significance which amount to generalized grievances
P.O.W.E.R. – parties failed to prove injury to themselves, rather, were asserting a generalized grievance
Complaint must fall within the Zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional guarantee
For case to be heard in court: Justiciability, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Personal Jurisdiction, Venue, Notice
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Subject Matter Jurisdiction (SMJ) is about a court having power over the case/whether a case can be heard in state or federal court.
State courts can hear any kind of case
General Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Dispute between citizen of Australia and a citizen of Chile over an accident in China. North Dakota state court can hear the case, because state court has general subject matter jurisdiction over any case. There may be other jurisdictional issues.
Federal courts have limited subject matter jurisdiction (limited by the Constitution)
Federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction under limited circumstances
Diversity of citizenship
May not be conferred by consent
If parties do not meet one of these requirements, parties cannot go to federal court even if the parties want to
Objection based on its absence can be raised at any time
Judgment tendered without SMJ is invalid and can be collaterally attacked
Collaterally attacked – attack on the judgment, typically in a later case, where a party will argue that the judgment is not enforceable
SMJ must be pleaded and proved
Question: Can the case be heard in state or federal court?
Diversity Jurisdiction (USC §1332, pg. 486)
Justifications for Diversity Jurisdiction:
To prevent prejudice of state courts toward out of state individuals
To invoke diversity jurisdiction, there are two requirements:
§1332(a)(1) Complete Diversity Requirement
Rule: There is no diversity if any plaintiff is a citizen of the same state as any defendant
There can be multiple plaintiffs with the same citizenship in a claim against multiple defendants with the same citizenship
Strawbridge v. Curtiss – plaintiffs from MA, defendants from MA and VT. A case MUST have COMPLETE diversity.
Citizenship of a Person
For a US citizen, you are a citizen of the state in which you are domiciled
Domicile (Milliken v. Meyer):
ber of unrelated or related claims)
Two different theories for the same damages
Co-plaintiffs where one plaintiff meets the $75,000 requirement, but the others do not (ExxonMobil)
Multiple parties on either side
Federal Question Jurisdiction §1331
CITIZENSHIP OF THE PARTIES IS IRRELEVANT AND THERE IS NO AMOUNT IN CONTROVERSY REQUIREMENT
Not enough that the complaint raises a federal issue. The claim itself must arise under federal law
§1332 – Well Pleaded Complaint Rule (Mottley Rule)
Look only at the complaint, and in the complaint, you ignore everything other than the claim itself
Claim must arise under federal law
Is the plaintiff enforcing a federal right?
If yes, it is a federal question case that can get into court under §1331
If not, then the case is not a federal question case and it cannot go to federal court under §1331
Can still go to federal court under diversity
Mottley – passengers on a railroad were injured. Sued RR. Settled case for a lifetime pass on railroad. Have been riding free on railroad for years. Congress then passes a law (federal law) that says that railroads cannot honor free passes. RR says there is new federal statute that bars free passes. Mottley sues RR, claiming breach of K & new federal statute does not apply
Skelly Rule – Federal statute I clearly a federal issue, BUT case cannot go to federal court under federal question because the CLAIM does not arise under federal law. How do we know?
Who is suing for affirmative relief? – The Mottleys
Would this arise under federal law? – NO. The federal statute specifically gives the Mottley’s no right. They’re not suing to enforce the federal law, they’re saying the federal law doesn’t apply.