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Civil Procedure I
University of Connecticut School of Law
Rutherford, Alanna

Civil Procedure – Fall 2010 Alanna Rutherford (Received B+)

Class 1: Intro and Access to the Courts

Title 28 of USC collects laws governing the federal judiciary system (Sections 2072 and 2073 are the power and methods to prescribe rules [FRCP])

FRCP 1 & 3:

Rule 1 Scope and Purpose

All civil actions and proceedings in the US District courts, except as in Rule 81. For just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.

Rule 3 Commencing an Action

Civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the court

Rule 8- Relief Sought & Defenses Available

Rule 9 – Special Matters (usually fraud)

Rule 10 – Form of Pleadings (CB pg 21 lays it out)

Rule 12 – How to respond to pleadings (defenses for motions)

The Right to be Heard: Due Process

The Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution applies to the Federal Gov’t

The Due Process clause of the FourteenthAmendment of the US Constitution applies to States

Goldberg v. Kelly (1970)

Facts – Initially, there was no pre-termination evidentiary hearing where a recipient could receive a “fair hearing,” thus no process for confronting adverse witnesses. (Precedent stated that welfare assistance was a property right, thus the invocation of the 14th Amendment (Property, and it was New York, so States). So, with no process in place for a recipient to receive a fair hearing to confront adverse witnesses BEFORE there was a deprivation of property (i.e. losing welfare assistance), court ordered an administrative procedure be in place to accomplish those goals. Also, the social cost is outweighed by the social welfare, in this instance.

Holding – Plaintiff Goldberg’s Due Process rights were violated.

Mathews v. Eldridge (1976)

Facts – For this case, there WAS a process in place which would allow a recipient a chance to rebut a claim he was no longer eligible to receive federal assistance, in this case disability benefits (this is a federal administration, so this was seeking a claim under the FIFTH AMENDMENT). Not only was a process in place, the recipient chose to skip out on his remaining options (reconsideration) entirely and bring suit to court. Court ruled in favor of existing procedure, stating that Due Process was already in place, different from ‘Goldberg’ because this was NOT a deprivation of life or property, and also, the courts are a last resort (must exhaust options available to recipient and if still a problem, then filed a claim).

Holding – Defendant Eldridge won because there was already a system in place that gave sufficient notice.

THREE DISTINCT FACTORS THAT IDENTIFY SPECIFIC DICTATIONS OF DUE PROCESS.

1. The private interest of the person who is affected by the Government’s official action.

2. Risk of error with the procedures used through probable value of additional or substitute safeguards.

3. The Government’s interest in preventing an administrative and financial burden.

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004)

Facts – Enemy combatant who was still a US citizen had a right to be free from involuntary confinement by his own gov’t w/o due process. Has a right to have meaningful opportunity to contest factual basis of detention. Used Eldridge , Hamdi’s private interest that will be affected by action outweighed govt’s asserted right.

Holding – Hamdi was entitled to NOTICE and opportunity to rebut before neutral decision maker.

Class 2: Pleadings & Amendments

Rule 7 – Pleadings

Rule 8 – Rules of pleadings

Rule 12 – responding to pleadings

Rule 17 – parties of interest and capacity to sue or be sued

Rule 6 – Time

Rule 15 – Amendments and supplemental pleadings

Rule 13 – Counterclaim and Cross Claim

Rule 18 – Joinder of claims

Conley v Gibson (1957) – Rule 8(a)(1) WAS NOT DEFEATED by Rule 12(b)(6) which is “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

Facts – 45 jobs that were held by negroes were not abolished but GIVEN TO WHITES. The union did not represent the negroes. Negroes sued alleging that the union had not represented them EQUALLY and in GOOD FAITH. Discrimination was a violation of the negroes rights under the Railway Labor Act to fair representation from bargaining agent.

Holding – In favor of plaintiffs, their claim was NOT DISMISSED.

Even if complaint is concise, it cannot be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim. Claim must give notice to the defendant about what the fight involves.

FRCP reject approach that pleading is a game of skill in which one misstep by counsel may be DECISIVE TO THE OUTCOME and accept principle that purpose of pleading is to facilitate a proper decision on the merits.

RULE – Rule 8(a)

(1) A SHORT AND PLAIN STATEMENT of the grounds for the court’s JURISDICTION, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no jurisdictional support.

(2) A short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is ENTITLED TO RELIEF; and

(3) A DEMAND for the RELIEF SOUGHT, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief. (DEMAND from the court what it is you are entitled to.)

Bell Atlantic Corp v. Twombly (2007) – Rule 8(a) WAS DEFEATED 12(b)(6) which is “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted” because NO FACTUAL CONTEXT given about collusion claim against defendant.

Facts – Group of ILECs vs. a class consisting of all subscribers of local telephone and/or high speed internet services from 1996 to present. Plaintiffs, the subscribers, sought damages by claiming violations of monopolistic activity. Brought up FACTUAL EVIDENCE of meetings.

Holding – Against plaintiff Twombly, not enough factual evidence.

Need to NUDGE claims across the line FROM CONCEIVABLE TO PLAUSIBLE. Need enough facts to raise a REASONABLE EXPECTATION that discover will reveal evidence.

Overrules the “NO SET OF FACTS NEEDED WHATSOEVER” interpretation that can be taken from a LITERAL reading of Conley. Complaint must provide FACTUAL CONTEXT to survive a dismissal. Cannot merely state the law and claim it is conceivable it was violated. The claims must be nudged from conceivable to plausible.

FOLLOWING THE REASONING IN TWOBLY — Ashcroft v. Iqbal (2009)

Facts – Iqbal, citizen of Pakistan and Muslim arrested in United States on criminal charges after 9/11 and detained by federal officials. Claims he was deprived of constitutional protections. Plaintiff claims that Defendants subjected him to harsh conditions of confinement because of his race, religion, national origin. Defendants MOVED TO DISMISS on grounds that there was insufficient facts presented to adequately state a claim.

Holding – Pleadings were found to be INSUFFICIENT, so Plaintiff Iqbal’s claim should be DISMISSED. Relied upon understanding of TWOMBLY and the FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS REQUIRED. Also, complaint fails to plead sufficient facts to state claim for discrimination given Qualified Immunity of Ashcroft/Government Officials.

RULE 8 of pleading does not require detailed factual allegations, but does demand more than an unadorned the defendant unlawfully harmed me accusation. Must contain sufficient factual matter, that if accepted as true, states a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Cannot be a formulaic recitation of elements of a claim.

Bower v. Weisman (1986) – dismissals will be granted when the pleading is SO VAGUE that a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a response.

Facts – Plaintiff and Defendant terminate 15 year personal and business relationship. Weisman made an agreement that Weisman would provide security for Bower and her daughter. Bower claims that Weisman broke the agreement by kicking Weisman out of the house that Bower had provided. Plaintiff Bower brought SEVEN CLAIMS and many very complicated and vague such that the defendant could not reasonably be required to fram

e institution of the action [within 120 days per rule 4(m)] so that a party won’t be prejudiced in maintaining a defense on the merits

3) newly named plaintiff must/should’ve known [w/in 120 days, rule 4(m)] that but for a mistake they would’ve been named.

Podhorn v. Paragon Group Inc. (1985) RULE 13 – CROSSCLAIMS AND COUNTERCLAIMS.

Facts – Plaintiffs file complaint alleging constructive eviction. Defendants had filed petition in state court for unpaid rent. Plaintiffs DID NOT FILE A COUNTERCLAIM and judgment in default against them.

Holding – Plaintiffs had to file a counterclaim even if the case was not triable before judge. Plaintiff’s claim is barred and court grants defendant’s motion to dismiss.

CROSSSCLAIMS vs. COUNTERCLAIMS – BOTH RULE 13.

Counterclaim is a claim brought against an opposing party, for example, a Defendant bringing a claim against a Plaintiff that already brought a claim.

Crossclaim is a claim between CO-PARTIES. Usually Defendants but MUST BE CLOSELY RELATED TO THE TRANSACTION OF THE ORIGINAL CLAIM asserted by the plaintiff.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal (2009)

Facts – Iqbal, citizen of Pakistan and Muslim arrested in United States on criminal charges after 9/11 and detained by federal officials. Claims he was deprived of constitutional protections. Plaintiff claims that Defendants subjected him to harsh conditions of confinement because of his race, religion, national origin. Defendants MOVED TO DISMISS on grounds that there was insufficient facts presented to adequately state a claim.

Holding – Pleadings were found to be INSUFFICIENT, so Plaintiff Iqbal’s claim should be DISMISSED. Relied upon understanding of TWOMBLY and the FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS REQUIRED. Also, complaint fails to plead sufficient facts to state claim for discrimination given Qualified Immunity of Ashcroft/Government Officials.

RULE 8 of pleading does not require detailed factual allegations, but does demand more than an unadorned the defendant unlawfully harmed me accusation. Must contain sufficient factual matter, that if accepted as true, states a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Cannot be a formulaic recitation of elements of a claim.

Class 3: Parties to the Case and 3rd Party Practice

Rule 18 (simple joinder) can include as many claims against a defendant as plaintiff wants. If all claims from same trx aren’t brought, final judgment normally results in prohibiting from these actions to be brought later. (Res Judicata)

Rule 20 (permissive) requires that persons joined in an action have rights

Rule 21 – permits court to drop or add any dispensable party

Kendra v. City of Phil (1978)–

Facts – Series of brutal acts committed by Philadelphia policemen against the plaintiffs. Civil Rights Action. According to the complaint, several officers at several different times arrested members of the Kendra family without probable cause and detained them for brutal interrogations. 3 family members brought to trial and ACQUITTED ON ALL COUNTS and INCURRED LEGAL FEES because of this. Systematic pattern of harassment led to emotional distress. Defendants filed motion to dismiss claiming it was prejudicial on the grounds of IMPROPER JOINDER RULE 20(a).