Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Outline

A. Defined Power of a court to decide the kind of action before it. Mnemonic: FADES B. Federal Question Cases 1. Federal courts have jurisdiction over "all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. Although cases to be decided under federal question jurisdiction have never been precisely defined, most cases will have federal law as the source of the cause of action. Claims created by state law that require interpretation of a federal law do NOT fall within federal question jurisdiction. C. Diversity 1. Amount in Controversy ...

Personal Jurisdiction
Outline

A. In Personam 1. Physical Presence ...

Notice And Opportunity To Be Heard
Outline

A. Generally A court that has proper jurisdiction over a case may only proceed when the defendant has proper notice of the proceedings against him. Proper notice usually entails service of "process" consisting of a summons to appear and a copy of the complaint. The defendant need not necessarily receive actual notice of the suit but the procedures followed must be "reasonably likely" to provide notice. The defendant must have adequate time to prepare his defense. B. Methods of Service 1. In Hand Service Defendant is physically handed a summons. 2. Attachment Defendant receives ...

Case Overviews
Outline

Capron v. Van Noorden (S.Ct. 1804) Facts: Capron brought an action in federal court without either raising a federal question, or alleging diversity of citizenship. ...

Overview
Outline

A court may only hear a case if the court has both: ...

Discovery
Outline

After the pleadings, parties then use various pretrial procedures in order to unearth knowledge in the other party's possession, or in the possession of witnesses. Discovery, however, is not designed to allow a party to discover their opponent's legal strategy, and there are several safeguards and sanctions available to courts and parties to ensure proper discovery. ...

Trial
Outline

A. Jury Trials 1. Trial by jury is a right in certain actions (criminal trial, most federal court suits). 2. Jurors are usually selected by the judge. 3. Peremptory challenges (challenge for no reason) to jury selection are allowed. ...

Pleadings
Outline

A. Filing the Complaint The plaintiff must also notify the court of the impending case. This is done by filing a complaint. 1. Benefits of Being a Plaintiff As plaintiff, a party has great leeway in framing the structure of the case: a. The plaintiff gets to choose (at least initially) whether federal or state courts will be used. b. The plaintiff chooses (also initially) the state or district in which the suit is brought. c. The plaintiff initially defines the issues involved, including what parties to join as defendants, what relief is sought (injunctive, monetary or both), a ...

Dismissal Of Actions (FRCP 41)
Outline

A. Timeliness The time period in which an appeal must be brought begins to run once judgment is entered. B. Standing to Appeal 1. Only a party injured (or aggrieved) by the judgment of the lower court has standing to appeal. 2. It is possible for both parties to be injured by a single judgment. Simply because one party is injured less does not mean they cannot appeal. ...

Default Judgments (FRCP 55)
Outline

A. Reviewable Issues Generally, appellate courts only review issues of law, not factual findings. B. Jury Trials 1. An appellate court must uphold a verdict supported by substantial evidence. 2. An appellate court cannot weigh evidence or pass on witness credibility. 3. An appellate court cannot disturb factual findings. ...

Summary Judgment (FRCP 56)
Outline

A. Generally 1. For the most part, only final judgments are appealable. 2. A final judgment is reached when, on the merits, litigation ends, leaving only the execution of judgment to be completed. 3. Substance, not form, determines if a judgment is final. B. Interlocutory Appeals Exception Interlocutory appeals are allowed in cases involving: 1. Collateral Orders A collateral order is one which: a. Raises serious legal questions; b. Involves a danger of irreparable harm; and c. Deals with an issue unrelated to the basic substantive claims asserted. ...

Judgements
Outline

A. Preclusive Effect Class actions have the same preclusive effect in all class members as any other suit may have. (See Chapter 11.) A judgment in a class action is binding on all members of the class unless there is an opportunity to opt out of the class and the class member takes advantage of that opportunity. ...

Notice
Outline

A. Policy It is not normally possible to individually notify all the class members because they are too numerous, or because not all the members can be positively identified. FRCP 23(c)(2) and 23(c)(3) require different notice depending on the type of class action certified. ...

Amendments
Outline

A. Permissive Joinder (FRCP 20) Outside parties to an action may consent to be joined by leave of the court. The joined parties must have claims that are transactionally related to the original action. B. Necessary Parties (FRCP 19(a)) 1. Generally Necessary parties to an action must be joined if possible, but their nonjoinder will not result in dismissal. A court will deem a party to be necessary if: a. The party's absence will preclude complete relief to present parties; b. The party's absence will preclude complete relief to that party in a subsequent suit; or c. The party ...

Answering The Complaint
Outline

A. Justiciability 1. The Supreme Court and lower federal courts will only hear justiciable cases, i.e., cases appropriate for federal adjudication on the merits. ...

The Reply
Outline

A. Generally (FRCP 18) A party may join several causes of action as long as they arise out of the same transaction or occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences. This transactional test applies whether the second claim is brought by a plaintiff against a defendant, by a defendant against a plaintiff (counterclaim), or by one party against a co-party (cross-claim). B. Counterclaims (FRCP 13) Defendant asserts a claim against a plaintiff. If the defendant's claim is not transactionally related to the claim asserted by the plaintiff, the judge has the discretion not to unduly comp ...

Stanton v. Wells Fargo Bank and Union
Brief

View this case and other resources at: Citation. 1150 Cal. App. 2d 763 Brief Fact Summary. Respondent life beneficiaries (Respondents) sought revision of a testatmentory trust provision which limited the Trustee (Trustee) to investment of the trust property in various bonds. The lower court entered judgement for Respondents, and Trustees sought review. Synopsis of Rule of Law. The rule against courts modifying the terms of a contract, and that they should construe it precisely as the parties had made it, does not apply to declarations of trust, where the primary purpose ...

In re Freihofer
Brief

View this case and other resources at: Citation. 172 Misc. 2d 260, 658 N.Y.S.2d 811 (N.Y.Sur. 1997) Brief Fact Summary. Respondent Trustee Attorney (Respondent) acted on behalf of Petitioner Beneficiary Sons (Beneficiary) on other issues and who also had in an Synopsis of Rule of Law. The failure of a trustee-attorney to fully disclose the potentially conflicting roles he played voids any receipt release and waiver he may have obtained from his beneficiary, particularly when he sought his own discharge from liability to that beneficiary while at the same time representing that ...

In re Estate of Cooper
Brief

View this case and other resources at: Citation. 187 A.D.2d 128,592 N.Y.S.2d 797;1993 N.Y. App. Div. Brief Fact Summary. William Thomas Cooper lived in a homosexual life partnership with Ernest Chin. Cooper left everything to the petitioner in his will with the exception of certain real estate that constituted over 80% of the entire estate. The Petitioner sought to take an elective share of the estate as Cooper's surviving spouse. Synopsis of Rule of Law. A state surviving spouse election statute does not apply to homosexual life partners and does not violate the Equal Prote ...

Estate of Kurkowski
Brief

View this case and other resources at: Citation. 486 Pa. 295 Brief Fact Summary. Appellant Administratix, Ellen Kurkowski Simon (Appellant), appeals from a lower court decree, which dismissed her for improper administration of her Testator Husband's (Testator) estate upon consideration of objections to the final account. Synopsis of Rule of Law. A testator's personal representative is under a fiduciary duty to take custody of his estate and administer it with the highest degree of good faith in such a way as to preserve and protect the property for distribution to the proper per ...

In re Estate of Janes
Brief

View this case and other resources at: Citation. 90 N.Y.2d 41,681 N.E.2d 332,659 N.Y.S.2d 165,1997 N.Y. Brief Fact Summary. Rodney B. Janes created a testamentary trust consisting of Kodak stock. He named wife, Cynthia Janes, and several charitable organizations as the beneficiaries under the trust. The trustees, the petitioner, Ellison Patterson and Richard Young, failed to divest the estate of the stock that had dropped in value. Synopsis of Rule of Law. A trustee must diversity assets unless the trustee reasonably determines that it is in the interests of the beneficiarie ...

Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children v. Gardiner
Brief

View this case and other resources at: Citation. 152 Ariz. 527,733 P.2d 1110,1987 Ariz. Brief Fact Summary. Laurabel Gardiner created a trust and appointed Mary Jane as trustee, Charles first alternate trustee, and Robert second alternate trustee. Jane did not have investment experience and left all the investment decisions to Charles. Charles, who was an investment counselor and stockbroker, embezzled $317,000 from the trust. Synopsis of Rule of Law. A trustee is not permitted to delegate his responsibilities to a co-trustee. A trustee lacking investment experience must s ...

Matter of Kinzler
Brief

View this case and other resources at: Citation. 195 A.D.2d 464, 600 N.Y.S.2d 126 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.1993) Brief Fact Summary. Appellant Executor Bertram Zweiborn (Appellant), son-in-law of Testator Pauline Kinzler (Testator), appeals a lower court order which was the result of a proceeding initiated by Respondent Beneficiary Daughters (Respondents) that he breached his fiduciary duties. Synopsis of Rule of Law. Fiduciary duties are owed from an estate executor to its beneficiaries and must be discharged in an unbiased and unprejudiced manner that does not involve self-dealing. ...

Matter of Estate of Rothko
Brief

View this case and other resources at: Citation. 401 N.Y.S.2d 449, 372 N.E.2d 291 (N.Y. 1977) Brief Fact Summary. Mark Rothko (Rothko) was a famous expressionist painter whose paintings were of substantial value. The issue underlying this matter is the manifestly improper behavior of his three executors. Appellant executors appeal a lower court ruling removing them as executors of the estate. Synopsis of Rule of Law. Executors retain a fiduciary duty that prohibits dealings of self-interest. ...

Estate of Rolfe
Brief

View this case and other resources at: Citation. ...