Brief Fact Summary.
Walker was injured by an allegedly defective nail manufactured by Armco Steel Corp. Walker sued Armco in federal district court in Oklahoma, basing federal jurisdiction on diversity. Walker’s case was dismissed as untimely because service of process was not completed within the applicable state (Oklahoma) statute of limitations.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Absent a direct conflict between federal rules and state law, the Hanna analysis does not apply; the policies of Erie and Ragan control the issue of whether, in the absence of an applicable federal rule, state service requirements should control in a diversity action filed in federal court.
The Court concluded that the Erie doctrine was simply not the appropriate test of the validity and applicability of one of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: the Erie rule has never been invoked to void a Federal Rule.View Full Point of Law
On August 22, 1975, Walker was injured by an allegedly defective nail manufactured by Armco Steel Corp. Walker filed a complaint against Armco in federal district court in Oklahoma on August 19, 1977. Jurisdiction was based on diversity. Service of process was not made on Armco Steel Corp. until December 1, 1977. Walker’s case was dismissed as untimely because under Oklahoma law, an action was not commenced until service of process was made; thus, the action was not commenced within the applicable two year state (Oklahoma) statute of limitations.
Was Walker’s action against Armco Steel Corp. commenced within the applicable statute of limitations?
No. Oklahoma’s two year statute of limitations applied, and the action was not commenced within this time period.
The Court held that in diversity actions, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 3 governed the date from which various timing requirements of the Federal Rules began to run, but did not supplant or otherwise affect state statutes of limitations.