St. Johns University School of Law Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Outline 2016-01-04

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Federal Rules of Civil Procedure law outline for a 4 credit class, 37 pages. For St. John's University School of Law class.

I. JURISDICTION OVER THE PARTIES: The measure of the court's authority to compel appearance and enforce judgments over parties to a dispute.

A. Statutory authority: Constitutional authority is not self-exercising: the forum's legislature must have passed enabling statutes to allow the court to assert jurisdiction (long-arm statutes). After International Shoe and the development of the minimum contacts standard, states developed two approaches:

1. General: Some statutes simply say that their jurisdiction reaches to the full limit of the Constitution (and court decisions construing that authority).

2. Specific: Most statutes enumerate specific activities that will support jurisdiction.

a. Gray: Illinois long-arm statute asserted jurisdiction over parties committing a tortious act within state. Defendant (Ohio) supplied a component to a water heater manufacturer (Pennsylvania). Breach of duty (supply of defective product into stream of commerce) therefore occurred entirely outside of Illinois, and only legal harm occurred within state. Court decided that was close enough, and asserted jurisdiction.

3. Federal statutory authority: Federal courts require statutory authorization just like state courts. Relevant federal statutes:

a. Service within state: Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(f) allows service within the state in which the district court is located.

b. Service outside state: Service can be made outside the state in which the district court sits under any one of the following circumstances:

(1) State long-arm statute authorizes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e) allows district court to use long-arm statute of the state in which it sits. The district court jurisdiction will extend wherever the state court jurisdiction would, and the same constitutional tests apply.

(2) Bulge jurisdiction: Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(f) authorizes jurisdiction across state lines, even in absence of enabling state long-arm statute, as long as following conditions are met:

(a) Defendant lives within 100 miles of the federal courthouse.

(b) Defendant is a necessary party (Fed. R. Civ. P. 19) or is impleaded (Fed. R. Civ. P. 14).

(3) Other federal legislation: Congress has enacted statutes to independently authorize nationwide assertion of jurisdiction in some cases, such as statutory impleaders and federal securities regulations.

c. Note: Clear policy is to require some enabling legislation. In Omni, plaintiffs wanted court to step in and fill in a gap left by statute, and court refused.
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