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

Civil Procedure
Fall 2009
Prof. Ward


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

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


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


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

Limits set by legislation / common law

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.

Case not justiciable

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 ∆

Case not justiciable

Legislature should decide whether or not to fluoridate water

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:

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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


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.

Federal Court: Court of limited jurisdiction

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:

1. Diversity of Citizenship,

2. Federal Question,

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

1. Supplemental Jurisdiction,

2. Removal, and

Usually winner recovers cost, but not attorney’s fees.

Those costs not included in determining amount in controversy.

2. π claim governs unless it is clear to a legal certainty (good faith corollary) that he cannot recover $75K

Stands unless it can be shown to a legal certainty that he cannot recover that amount.

3. π ultimate recovery is irrelevant to SMJ

§1332 (b) à If π recovers less than $75K, court may have π pick up the costs of ∆

4. Aggregation

Add together two or more claims to get over $75K. Neither one alone is greater than $75K.

Aggregate claims if 1π vs. 1∆, even if the claims are totally unrelated to one another.

CANNOT aggregate if multiple parties on either sides.

Plaintiff has a claim of $50K against def 1, and of $40K against def 2, he cannot aggregate the claims. à multiple defendants

Must meet $75k threshold against each ∆

If we have joint claims, you go w/ the total value of that claim

π sues 3 joint tortfeasors for $76K for personal injuries

π says that the 3 tortfeasors beat him up, and he is suing them jointly.

This is okay b/c ∆’s jointly liable to π

Joint claim (single claim) focuses on the total value


Ø 28 U.S.C. §1331

Case that “arises under” federal law (the Constitution, laws and treaties of the U.S.)

Citizenship and amount in controversy irrelevant.

How do we know whether claim arises under federal law:

Mottley & Well-Pleaded Complaint Rule: π’s claim must arise under federal law on its face

Ignore anticipated defenses. Is the π enforcing a right under federal law?

Louisville v. Mottley: Federal claim must be on face of complaint

Violation of federal right cannot be asserted as an anticipated defense