Civil Procedure – Czarnetzky– Spring 2017
“Justice lies in the interstices of procedure.” Justice should be fair and arrive at the truth.
Jurisdiction=”the law speaks” or “the speaking of the law”
Who gets to decide what the law says?
Which courts can hear certain disputes?
The system must seem to be fair “due process of law” (Constitution)
Civil Procedure deals with civil cases and how we navigate within the legal system. Civil Procedure lays out methods by which we use to vindicate people’s subjunctive rights.
Civil Procedure seeks to find truth, however, resources are not infinite but the judicial system gives the best effort within reason to find the truth
Within the civil procedure, the courts must balance efficiently, search for finality, and justice.
An important part is jurisdiction:
Personal jurisdiction: what specific court has power over this defendant’s case (defendant’s focus?)
Does the court have power to enter a judgment against the person of the defendant
Narrows down what specific court can hear the case
Subject matter jurisdiction: what court has the power to hear this type of dispute
Whether or not a particular type of court can hear this TYPE of case.
Some courts have general subject matter jurisdiction and others have limited subject matter jurisdiction
Federal courts are courts of limited subject matter jurisdiction
Certain disputes can be brought in state and federal courts
What cases CAN federal courts hear (Listed in Article III section 2 of U.S. Constitution)
Congress can restrict the powers of the judiciary, but cannot grant more power to the judiciary than the Constitution grants.
Congress has limited federal subject matter jurisdiction to cases where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum of $75,000.
Cases arising under the Constitution (federal questions), the Laws of the U.S, in treaties made or that will be made
Cases between citizens of different states (Diversity Jurisdiction) 28 U.S.C. 1332
Deals with the 5th and 14th Amendments to the constitution: “Cannot deprive of life, liberty, property without due process of law.”
General jurisdiction: every state has a court that can hear any civil matter before them.
Federal jurisdiction: courts of limited jurisdiction including the Supreme Court
Limited jurisdiction: only certain cases qualify for these courts. These cases must fall under some sort of limited jurisdiction like a diversity jurisdiction (as in Hawkins v. Master Farm Inc – a case between citizens of different states).
Limited jurisdiction: is set forth by Article 3 Section 2 of the Constitution.
FEDERAL COURTS ARE COURTS OF LIMITED JURISDICTION
Title 28 USC Section 1332: Vol 28 U.S. Code- a statute passed by Congress
Hawkins v. Master Farms Inc.
Diversity jurisdiction: Case was trying to be heard in the federal district court of Kansas “D Kan.”. The question is: Can a federal court hear this case?
Rules: In order to be considered for the diversity jurisdiction statute, a case must be concerning more than $75,000 and be between citizens of different states.
Domicile: a common law rule used to decide the diversity jurisdiction question.
Domicile is tested by: Where a person established a physical presence AND the intent to remain indefinitely (the best intent is what someone says)
Legal Issue: What state is the plaintiff domiciled?
Sanctions by Rule 11: If a lawyer wastes the court’s time, they can be slapped with sanctions. Sanctions are only allowed to be awarded when there is NO reasonable argument.
There is a case for Mr. Creal (the Plaintiff’s deceased husband) to be from Missouri because he talked about returning, his mail still went to Missouri, he wasn’t completely satisfied with Kansas, but he did come home to Kansas every night.
The ruling was for the defendant, the case did not exhibit the diversity jurisdiction.
Tort law is state law
Savings Clause: If a case is dismissed in federal court for other than a substance issue the savings clause can be enforced, which will allow the plaintiff to re-file the cause in state court even if the statute of limitations has expired.
Services of Process
Case begins when the defendant is served his summons
Bridges v. Diesel Services Inc. (pg. 14)
Legal Issue: Rule 11 Violation.
Rule 11: lays out the minimum standard a lawyer should meet, a lawyer must have a reasonable defense based on the good faith law. The question with Rule 11 is whether the lawyer met his responsibilities as a lawyer?
The mistake was procedural not substantive.
Must “exhaust administrative remedies”
Rule 11 deals with both facts and the attorney’s duty visa vie the law.
Rule 11 summary (know for exam)
Any factual assertion made in federal court, among other things, must be based on a reasonable investigation under the circumstances.
A good faith argument must be made under the law that exists or a good faith extension of the law
The sanctions are within the discretion of the court.
Rule 11 is not supposed to be a “fee shifting” device
Bell v. Novick Transfer
Rule 8: states that a complaint only requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” KNOW FOR EXAM
Don’t have to put in every fact that we plan to present at trial in order to comply with Rule 8.
A barebones statement will work.
Rule 12 (e) *** Motion for a Bill of Particulars (state), Motion for a Federal Statement (federal): asks for a more definite statement but in this case the defendant is not entitled to uphold this because the complaint is not too vague that the defendant cannot form a response. (see Rule 11 for the minimum)
Rule 11: any document in court must be based on a reasonable statement of fact; need a good faith basis to assert this. With this rule, you can sanction lawyers.
Defendant gets case removed to federal court, and then says this complaint is insufficient according to Maryland law. Wants judge to throw out case or said at least go for rule 12 (e) if you will not throw it out. BUT Rule 8 governing rule.
Therefore the motion is overruled.
Rule 8 and Rule 11 work together
28 USC 1441: Permits a defendant to move a case to federal court if it meets the federal subject matter jurisdiction
Some courts have Concurrent Jurisdiction-ability to file a case in multiple courts
Allows a neutral nonlocal forum to combat bias against non-local defendants
The only legitimate reason a Plaintiff can object to a Motion for Removal is if the federal courts do not have subject matter jurisdiction
If a case is removed from state court to Federal court, the state’s substantive law governs the case, but the Federal rules of procedure govern the case.
Federal courts don’t adopt the state rules of procedure
What is the advantage/disadvantage of Rule 8 and not having a detailed complaint?
Advantage – Makes it easier to bring cases, without this rule lawyer’s would invest too much money and time before you even know if the case is triable.
Disadvantage – We sacrificed the defendant knowing what the case will be against him AND there will be a certain number of frivolous cases that are only known once the discovery process is started.
Complaint: the formal document that informs the defendant of the lawsuit (Notice Pleading)– commences the lawsuit. It can be mailed or a summons can be drafted.
Motions: requests to the court to do something (dismiss
Legal standard: If no genuine issue of material fact, judge can grant summary judgment to the party that wins under the law (i.e. a contract if valid). *** NO ISSUE of fact, NO JURY.
When can a judge decide a case without submitting it to a jury?
There is NO issue of fact or evidence presented!
Judge may permissibly grant summary judgment if there is no genuine dispute of material fact
If both sides agree to the facts, then there is nothing for the jury to decide.
Norton v. Snapper Power Equipment
J. N.O.V. (Judgment non obstante verdicto) (Judgment not withstanding the verdict): once the jury has rendered a verdict the judge may revoke it saying no reasonable person, given the evidence, could have concluded their verdict; the jury verdict is irrational and unsupported by fact (Judgment notwithstanding the verdict). NO POSSIBLE WAY at all to interpret these facts as such.
Judgment as a Matter of Law: once the pre-trail stage is over, the judge can still throw the case out if the burden of proof offers no evidence on the issue at all. (Like a summary judgment just past the point of pre-trail stage).
****In order to collect damages, the plaintiff must have a judgment. Citizens only render a verdict. 99% of the time judge enters judgment on the jury’s verdict.
Grant of JNOV in this case is not understandable, but the trial judge did. (He assumed like in another case – precedent: Fenner v. General Motors – that this was too great an inference.) How is Norton different? And here is why? (EXAM)
No dead-man switch on the lawnmower, and plaintiff lost his fingers. Trial judge granted JNOV in favor of Snapple.
Legal Issue: Would a dead-man switch have prevented the man from losing his fingers?
Could reasonable people differ on this issue? Yes, then no JNOV. We do not know at what point the plaintiff lost his fingers.
J.N.O.V. overturned by 11th Circuit
Rush v. City of Maple Heights (Ohio)
Facts: Plaintiff sued for damage to his motorcycle (property suit) after he hit a pothole in Maple Heights. The P tried to then sue for personal injury. However, the court ruled that Rush could only have one suit for one cause. Overturn the precedent of Vasu.
Could Rush sue his lawyer? No, because his lawyer would not have known that the court would overturn the precedent.
Stare decisis- courts follow earlier decision…not in this case
Lawyer’s reasoning: Bring property case first, easier to prove, damage is less to motorcycle than to the personal injury = easier to WIN (magnitude of damages + willingness of jurors to give a little).
If you win the first case, you’ve already won the second case. BECAUSE the issue of negligence is already proved in the first case. This is called Res Judicata.
Res Judicata (Former Adjudication): you only get one bite at the apple. (double jeopardy for civil cases). Without this rule, it is burdensome to the court.
Res Judicata (Claim Preclusion) – same claim twice (once there is one claim in court, you cannot bring it again)