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This Capsule Summary is intended for review at the end of the semester. Reading it is not a substitute for mastering the material in the main outline. Numbers in brackets refer to the pages in the main outline where the topic is discussed.



A. A road map: Here is a “road map” for analyzing a Civil Procedure problem:

1. Personal jurisdiction: First, make sure that the court has “personal jurisdiction” or “jurisdiction over the parties.” You must check to make sure that: (1) D had minimum contacts with the forum state (whether the court is a state or federal court); and (2) D received such notice and opportunity to be heard as to satisfy the constitutional requirement of due process. [7-98]

2. Venue: Then, check whether venue was correct. In federal court suits, the venue requirement describes what judicial district the case may be heard in. Essentially, the case must be heard either: (1) in any district where the defendant resides (with special rules for multi-defendant cases; or (2) in any district in which a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred. See 28 U.S.C. §1391. [103]

3. Subject matter jurisdiction: If the case is a federal case, you must then ask whether the court has subject matter jurisdiction. Essentially, this means that one of the following two things must be true: [119-163]

a. Diversity: Either the case is between citizens of different states (with “complete diversity” required, so that no plaintiff is a citizen of the same state as any defendant) and at least $75,000 is at stake; or

b. Federal question: The case raises a “federal question.” Essentially, this means that plaintiff’s right to recover stems from the U.S. Constitution, a federal treaty, or an act of Congress. (There is no minimum amount required to be at stake in federal question cases.)

4. Pleading: Next, you must examine whether the pleadings are proper. [169-201]

5. Discovery: Next, you may have a complex of issues relating to pre-trial discovery. [203-250]

6. Ascertaining applicable law: Now, figure out what jurisdiction’s law should be used in the case. The most important problem of this type is: In a diversity case, may the federal court apply its own concepts of “federal common law”, or must the court apply the law of the state where the federal court sits? If the state has a substantive law (whether a statute or a judge-made principle) that is on point, the federal court sitting in diversity must apply that law. This is the “rule” of Erie v. Tompkins. (Example: In a diversity case concerning negligence, the federal court must normally apply the negligence law of the state where the court sits.) [253-278]

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