Civil Procedure – Elias – Spring 2013
Motions to Dismiss
1) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b) – A party may assert the following defenses by motion:
a) (1) lack of subject-matter jurisdiction
b) (2) lack of personal jurisdiction
c) (3) improper venue
d) (4) insufficient process
e) (5) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
f) (6) failure to join a party under Rule 19
g) Any of these defenses must be made before pleading
1) Threshold question in every case that the Court has to address, even if the parties don’t bring it up.
2) The court cannot grant federal jurisdiction by party consent, waiver, or excuse. Capron v. Van Noorden
Subject Matter Jurisdiction*
1) Federal courts are courts of limited subject matter jurisdiction, and state courts are courts of general subject matter jurisdiction
a) The limitation is intended to ensure the presence of a forum familiar with and expert in federal law, and with a judiciary more inclined to apply fully and faithfully those federal laws
2) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) – Motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction
3) Constitution, Article III, Section 2, Clause 1 – “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, … to Controversies… between Citizens of different States, … and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens, or Subjects.”
4) Constitution, Article III, Section 2, Clause 2 – “In … Cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact…”
Federal Question Jurisdiction*
1) Constitution, Article III, Section 2, Clause 1 – “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made…”
2) 28 U.S.C. § 1331 – “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
3) Well-Pleaded Complaint Rule: plaintiff’s statement of his cause of action has to show that it is based upon federal laws or the Constitution
a) Louisville and Nashville RR v. Motley
i) Plaintiffs, citizens of KY, were injured by the RR, a KY company, and received free travel passes for life. Congress passed a law forbidding the giving or free transportation, and the RR declined to renew plaintiffs’ passes.
ii) Plaintiffs sued in Federal District Court for the Western District of KY. In their complaint, they sought to enjoin the RR from breaching their contract. Anticipating that the RR would mount the defense that the Act of Congress prohibited giving out free passes, the plaintiffs alleged that Act of Congress did not forbid the giving of free passes like the ones they had, and that even if it did forbid their passes, that it violated the 5th Amendment right to due process before being deprived of property.
iii) A defendant’s defenses and the plaintiffs’ responses to those defenses are not part of the cause of action.
iv) In order for the federal courts to have federal question subject matter jurisdiction, the cause of action has to contain a federal question.
v) The plaintiff’s cause of action was in equity on a contract claim, which is not a federal question, and it is irrelevant whether it is predictable that the case will ultimately turn on a federal question.
1) 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) – “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between (1) citizens of different States, or (2) citizens of a State and citizens or subjects of a foreign country…”
a) Why we want diversity of citizenship cases to remain on the books:
i) Prevent discrimination against out of state residents
ii) Provide stability for investors
iii) Tool for solving problems of national significance in areas that are traditionally governed by state law
iv) Institutional superiority of federal courts (legitimacy)
v) Competition between state and federal courts act as a spur to higher standards of justice
b) Why diversity of citizenship cases are outdated and unnecessary:
i) Prejudice against out of state residents is much less prevalent in our modern world
ii) Diversity cases overload federal dockets (28% of federal cases in 2008 were diversity)
iii) Retards development of state law
iv) Presents a risk of forum shopping and judge shopping
v) Suggestions of reform:
(1) We could prohibit plaintiffs from invoking federal jurisdiction in their home state
(2) We could treat corporations as citizens of every state
(3) We could exclude noneconomic damages from the calculation of the $75,000
(4) We could raise the $75,000 to account for inflation
3) Diversity of citizenship requires complete diversity on either side of the “v.” Strawbridge v. Curtis
a) Exception: If the parties that destroy complete diversity are only “nominal” or “formal” parties, there is still diversity of citizenship. Rose v. Giamatti
i) “Nominal” means lacking any real stake in the action
ii) The theory is that the presence of nominal parties in the action will not affect the outcome of the case
4) Aggregating claims to meet amount in controversy requirement
a) Can be the aggregate of multiple claims by the same plaintiff against the same defendant, even totally unrelated claims
i) Example: P1 sues D1 for $40,000 in property damage and $45,000 in personal injury = satisfies the amount in controversy requirement
ii) Example: P1 sues D1 for $40,000 for damage to car in 2012 and $45,000 for IIED in 2013 = satisfies the amount in controversy requirement, even though the claims are totally unrelated
b) Can be the aggregate of claims by multiple plaintiffs if the plaintiffs are enforcing a single title or right, but not if they are only transactionally related
i) Example: P1 and P2 each sue D1 for $40,000 for damages to their jointly owned $80,000 property (which is dumb, this would never happen) = satisfies the amount in controversy requirement
ii) Example: P1 and P2 each sue D1 for $40,000 for ripping them off in the same pyramid scheme = does not satisfy the amount in controversy requirement
c) Cannot be the aggregate of claims by the same pl
had the plaintiff filed there originally
b) A plaintiff cannot remove to federal court, even if the defendant files a counterclaim. Shamrock Oil and Gas v. Sheets
2) 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) – (Removal based on Diversity) “In determining whether a civil action is removable on the basis of section 1332(a) (diversity jurisdiction), the citizenship of defendants sued under fictitious names shall be disregarded.”
a) Example: “Jane Doe”
b) Because the unknown defendants’ citizenship is unknown
3) 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2) – A civil action otherwise removable solely on the basis of diversity may not be removed “if any of the parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought.”
a) Example: P, a resident of OH, sues D1, a resident of KY, and D2, a resident of TN, in KY state court. D2 cannot remove to federal court because D1 is a citizen of the state where action was brought.
b) Protects D1
4) 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c) – (Joinder of federal and state claims) If a civil action includes (A) a federal question within the meaning of section 1331 AND (B) a claim not within the original or supplemental jurisdiction of the federal courts, then the entire action may be removed if the action would be removable without the inclusion of the claim in (B). Upon removal, the district court shall sever all claims described in (B) and remand the severed claims to state court.
5) If a case involves state and federal claims, the case can be removed, and the claims over which the court has original jurisdiction (federal question) or supplemental jurisdiction (common nucleus of operative fact) can stay. The other claims will be severed and remanded back to state court.
a) Note that if a state claim is not severable from the federal claim, it implies that they arise under a common nucleus of operative fact
1) The legal right of a court to exercise its judicial authority over a particular person or a particular thing
2) The main policy concern is individual defendants’ interests v. state sovereignty
3) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) – Motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction
4) Constitution, 5th Amendment – “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”
a) The 5th amendment guarantees due process, which requires a competent tribunal and proper assertion of sovereignty over persons or property
b) A federal court only has personal jurisdiction under the 5th Amendment if it is a competent tribunal with a valid assertion of sovereignty over the person or thing