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Complex Civil Litigation
University of South Carolina School of Law
Stravitz, Howard B.

Complex Civil Litigation
Fall 2014- Stravitz
Introduction- pg. 1-2
Personal Jurisdiction:
Four Requirements:
1.      There must be some kind of validly-enacted statute or rule that enables the court to exercise the power over the parties.
a.       Ex: Art. III, §§1331 and 1332
2.      The Party who is initiating the exercise of power must correctly comply with the provisions of the enabling statute.
3.      The party invoking the power must inform the other interested parties of that invocation through a method for serving process under the statute or rule that is reasonably calculated to give notice to the interested parties under all the circumstances of the pendency of the proceeding and affords them an opportunity to appear.
4.      The exercise of the power must satisfy constitutional due process in terms of substantial justice and fair play.
General and Specific Personal Jurisdiction:
General: If the defendant has sufficiently substantial systematic contacts with the forum. OR even a defendant’s single contact with the forum may be sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction over the defendant where the plaintiff’s cause of action relates to that contact.
General Personal Jurisdiction: Substantial Systematic Contacts
·         Domicile
·         Personal Place of Business
·         Place of Incorporation
Specific: Defendant must have “purposely availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws. The Court also must consider the factors of fair play and substantial justice.
Specific Jurisdiction- Purposely Availed and Sub Justice and Fair Play
Considerations for substantial justice and fair play:
·         The burdens on the defendant
·         The slight interests of the forum state in the action
·         The slight interests of the plaintiff in having the forum state exercise jurisdiction
·         The overall efficiencies.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction: 87-98
Subject-matter jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter. For instance, bankruptcy court only has the authority to hear bankruptcy cases.
Subject-matter jurisdiction must be distinguished from personal jurisdiction, which is the power of a court to render a judgment against a particular defendant, and territorial jurisdiction, which is the power of the court to render a judgment concerning events that have occurred within a well-defined territory. Unlike personal or territorial jurisdiction, lack of subject-matter jurisdiction cannot be waived. A judgment from a court that did not have subject-matter jurisdiction is forever a nullity
The Two Major Types of Federal Subject Matter
1.      Federal Question: Vested by statute in 1875- 28 U.S.C. §1331
a.       Arising under
Art. III of U.S. Constitution – any federal issue might conceivably be raised at any point in the case. (Osborn).
§1331 is more narrow.
b.      Purpose
Provides a federal forum for the vindication of federally created rights and for the expert, uniform, and sympathetic interpretation of federal law.  Framers intended state courts to handle these matters.
28 U.S.C. §1331- Test for Federal Question:
·         The federal question must be “substantial”
·         The federal issue must be sufficiently central to the resolution of the dispute.
·         Must be raised in a well pleaded complaint.
Well Pleaded Complaint- A suit arises under the Constitution and laws of the United States only when the plaintiff's statement of his own cause of action shows that it is based upon those laws or that Constitution. Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co. v. Mottley
2.      Diversity of Citizenship: Vested by statute- Judiciary Act of 1789.
28 U.S.C. §1332- Diversity of Citizenship
a.       Elements:
                                                              i.      Diversity
                                                            ii.      Amount in Controversy
1.      Must exceed $75,000
a.       Based on god faith

related to the claim that got the case into federal court as to be part of the same “case or controversy” as that claim.  “Common nucleus of operative facts.” – Broader than same transaction or occurrence
            Statutory Analysis
                        The grants of 1367(a)
·         Applies to claims against another party through joinder or intervention.
                        The Limitations for Diversity Cases in 1367(b)
·         Doesn’t apply against another party unless amount in controversy is met.
·         Applies to only claims asserted by the Plaintiff.
                                    Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Services
As long as one plaintiff’s claim satisfies the minimum amount-in-controversy requirement, the court may exercise jurisdiction over additional plaintiff’s case that fall short of the requirement, when all claims arise from the same case or controversy.
After Exxon:
·         Diverse plaintiffs whose claims don’t satisfy amount in controversy and who are not necessary parties within Rule 19 may join their claims to those of any other diverse plaintiff whose claim does satisfy the jurisdictional amount, provided that all claims form part of the same case or controversy within Article III.
·         Applies to individual, mass and class actions.  In class action, only one named plaintiff must satisfy the amount in controversy.
·         Diverse plaintiffs whose claims satisfy the amount in controversy may join their claims together, regardless of whether they are necessary parties under Rule 19.  This is dictated by the general diversity statue, §1332, and the supplemental jurisdiction statute is irrelevant.