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- Under the Erie doctrine, when there is state law claims in federal court, the general rule is that the federal court will apply state substantive law (including statute of limitations) and federal procedural law
- o If there is a FRCP rule on point then federal court should apply the federal rule (Hanna – Rule of Reason)
Undetermined State Law (Erie)
If state law would be substantive, but there is no state law on the matter, then the federal court must determine what it thinks the state’s supreme court would rule on the issue.
State and Federal Procedural Rule Conflict (Erie)
- 1. If Constitution, Treaty, or Act of Congress- federal law wins (under supremacy clause)
- 2. If FRCP- Federal rules are good (Hanna)
- 3. BUT, if conflict arises from federal case law do
- o York - Outcome Determinative Test (S.O.L.)
- o Byrd - Balancing Test (Jury Trial)
- o Modified Outcome Determinative Test (Hanna)
- o Gaspirini (Reviving York and Bird)
York - Outcome Determinative Test (Erie)
- - When applying federal law is outcome determinative, apply state law. If not, apply federal law.
- - Statute of limitations:
- o Between states, SOL is procedural
- o Within states, SOL is substantive
- o Federal must use SOL of state it’s in (a federal court cannot give a state law c/a longer life than it would have in state court)
Byrd – Balancing Test (Erie)
- - If applying federal law affects the outcome, weight the state’s reasons/interests against the Fed’s reasons/interests for their laws.
- - Jury trials - no Fed law on point AND not outcome-determinative, apply Byrd
Hanna – Modified Outcome Determinative Test (Erie)
- - Use rule of reason and if no FRCP on point then do York test against twin aims of Erie:
- o Measure the change in outcome against the twin aims of Erie
- • If change violates Erie then use state law
Twin Aims of Erie
- - Discourage forum shopping
- - Avoid inequitable administration of the laws
Erie question (3 ways can be brought)
- 1) State law is given but there is a similar FRCP on point
- 2) Statute of limitations of the state is always followed even if federal is given because it is substantive law
- 3) Division-can either do certification or federal court sits as though they are the state supreme court
- - State courts apply federal substantive law to federal claims
- - States may use their own procedural rules UNLESS those rules impose an undue burden on the federal right.
Choice of Law (Erie)
- - Typically used when multiple state laws are involved
- a. Lex Loci - “Law of the place of injury” (never wrong on an exam)
- b. Lex Fori - “law of the forum” (where filed)
- • look at contacts or aggregation of contacts to determine fairness of forum selection
- • when a state decides to apply its own laws, there must be some minimum contacts with the D or the choice of law decision is likely to be deemed unconstitutional
- a. Balancing- 2nd Restatement
- • What law has greater sense to apply?
- • Must balance the effect of choosing each law on the case
Gasperini (Grossly Excessive Damages)
- - using outcome determinative and balancing to define excessive damages awards
- - Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrong-doer, although there is no state law that limits them, they could be excessive and violate the U.S. Constitution-the supremacy clause would impose a constitutional limit considering the BMW guideposts for excessiveness; Procedurally, federal rules allow the federal court to set aside an excessive verdict by granting a new trial or by a conditional grant of a new trial if the plaintiff refuses the reduced amount of damages; always measured against state law unless the state law is unconstitutional
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