Civil Procedure Nelson Fall 2016
I. Introduction/Course basics
What is Civ Pro?
How to present a case to courts, how the adjudicative process works
Sources of authority:
State courts—state law and constitutions
Supposed to follow SCOTUS decisions
Valid federal law supersedes state law
Federal courts—statutes enacted by Congress and federal constitution
Supposed to follow state supreme courts’ rulings on state law issues
What’s the difference between proceeding in state court or federal court?
Judges are different people; judgments may differ based on the judge.
Also a consideration of who would hear the appeal
If eligible for trial by jury, what is the jury pool like
Different procedural rules
What precedents is the court bound to follow
To bring a lawsuit, court needs:
Subject matter jurisdiction—authority over the type of claim
Generally limited in federal courts; broader in state courts
Personal jurisdiction—authority over the parties
2 part analysis:
Does the state’s law purport to authorize personal jurisdiction?
Does the federal constitution prevent such an assertion.
Federal courts generally piggy back off whatever the state courts would do
Venue—where in particular judicial system a case must be brought
Steps of the lawsuit:
Statement of the plaintiff’s claim
D can make motions or answer once served with the complaint
Ways to cut off a lawsuit:
Motions under Rule 12
Motion for summary judgment under Rule 56
Motion for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50
II. Proper Court
Subject matter jurisdiction
State SMJ comes from state law (usually broader), federal court SMJ comes from federal law (pretty narrow).
State and federal courts can have concurrent jurisdiction over the same issue
Federal courts can have exclusive jurisdiction over some federal claims
Focus on federal courts:
Article 3 sets the outer limits of Congress’ ability to authorize federal courts SMJ. Cases and controversies involving:
Categories of foreign relations
Domestic harmony among American states
Smooth functioning of federal gov’t
Congress must still authorize out to that outer limit
The key statutes:
28 USC §1332—civil actions between citizens of different states and in which $75k is in controversy
28 USC §1331—civil actions “arising under” the laws of the US
28 USC §1367—supplemental jurisdiction over claims arising under the “same nucleus of operative fact.”
28 USC §1441—removal of cases from state court
Courts have a duty to raise SMJ sua sponte at any point in the trial. It is not waivable by the parties.
Burden of showing diversity citizenship is on the party invoking such jurisdiction. Plaintiff must identify grounds for SMJ in complaint and may be required to provide more evidence if there are disputes or if the court is uneasy about its ability to hear the case.
The statute basics
DCs have original jurisdiction over civil actions that exceeds $75,000 (exclusive of interest and cost), and is between:
A1: Citizens of different states
A2: Citizens of a state and citizens or subjects of a foreign state (except if citizen of foreign state is also lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the same state as the US citizen)
A3: Citizens of different states (on both sides) and to which foreign residents are additional parties (Test: Ignore the foreign people. Can the US citizens sue each other?)
A4: A foreign state as a plaintiff and citizens of a state or different states
Key question: Can each sue each individually? (Exception is A3. Ignore the foreign people).
SCOTUS has generally required complete diversity, even though Article 3 only requires minimal diversity
Some statutes that allow minimal diversity:
Interpleader statute, Multiparty, Multiforum Trial Jurisdiction Act, Class Action Fairness Act
Determining citizenship of individuals: Mas v. Perry
Case: Mr. Mas is citizen of France; Mrs. Mas is originally from MS but is living in LA for school. Rented a house from Perry, who was also from LA. Sues in federal court and Perry says this is improper because Mrs. Mas is from LA too.But Mrs. Mas as a student had never had the requisite intention to change her domicile from MS so she is still domiciled there for purposes of 1332.
Test for citizenship in a particular state for purposes of §1332:
Domiciled in particular state
Physical component—actually being in the state.
Mental component—intent to remain there
Courts may look at certain facts like permanent job, house, etc. Supposed to look at totality of circumstances.
Keep domicile until you establish another one
Citizenship at the time of filing. Only have one!
US citizen domiciled abroad does not fit under §1332.
Dual citizens are deemed citizens only of their US state for purposes of §1332.
Citizenship of non-persons:
Non-corporations (associations, partnerships):
Look at the citizenship of each of their members using the test above
Ex: Labor union with 1,000 members. 999 in NY, 1 in Canada. The union is a citizen of NY and Canada.
Therefore, they can be citizens of many states
Citizen of every state/foreign state where:
It is incorporated
Has its principle place of business—can only have one
Hertz Corp v. Friend—establishes the ‘nerve center’ test; the place where company’s high level officers direct, control and coordinate corporate activities.
Rejected the “business activity test” under which Hertz might have been a citizen of CA since it did a large proportion of its business there.
P(CA) v. Corp (DE) (CA)
P(VA) + P(japan) v. Corp. (DE) (Egypt)
Do analysis twice, once with corp as citizen of DE (yes) and once wit
te or rise to a certain level (see below)?
More details on well-pleaded complaint:
Courts will look at the source of the cause of action, the elements of that cause of action, not tangential parts of the complaint.
Just pay attention to what is necessary to prove the elements of the cause of action
If no federal law question arises while examining the well-pleaded complaint, then it doesn’t satisfy §1331.
Ex: Plaintiff files suit and invokes §1331.To decide if that is true, examine plaintiff's complaint, but strip away certain allegations in complaint. Do not pay attention to potential defenses or potential replies to those defenses. Instead, examine cause of action and any theories to show elements of cause of action. If no federal law under these, then no federal law question under §1331
Louisville RR v. Mottley:
Injured in train accident. Free passes for life. In 1906, statute forbade RRs from giving free passes or charging certain passengers less. In 1907, RR stopped giving Mottleys free passes. Filed breach of contract case in federal law because they thought it was a question of federal law.
Elements of cause of action: Contract had been formed, RR wasn't living up to it, and plaintiffs were being harmed as a result
Mottleys figured RR would raise a federal defense that they couldn’t live up to the K because of the federal statute so they anticipated this defense in their complaint.
SCOTUS says well-pleaded complaint rule isn’t met here
Eliscu—p purported to be sole owner of a copyright; D had owned some rights to the copyright but p says he assigned them to someone else. D said he hadn’t. Court holds that this isn’t a federal question under the Copyright Act, just a state cause of action to determine who owns the copyright. Copyright Act only creates federal cause of action for infringement, not ownership.
Shoshone Mining Co. v. Rutter—Congress invited courts to look at state law or other source of law; no substantive legal principles of federal law at issue, no arising under.
Smith v. Kansas City Title and Trust—no federal cause of action, but state cause of action relied upon the unconstitutional nature of a federal statute. Element of cause of action implicates federal law, so this can be part of the well-pleaded complaint and can “arise under” despite not meeting the Holmes test