Civil Procedure

Alexandra Bursak
Preclusion law is notoriously convoluted. Courts have made no secret of their distaste for the doctrine, describing it variously as “conflicting,” “inconsistent,” “breeding confusion,” and ultimately “not very well liked.” Though the Supreme Court has consolidated issue and claim preclusion into a single coherent whole, this Note argues that the merger of res judicata and collateral estoppel in our modern preclusion law is incomplete. These different preclusions are motivated by different rationales: Res judicata protects private closure of parties, while estoppel began as a defense of judicial interests and expanded to forward systemic ones. Though private and systemic interests may often align, this alignment is not inevitable. In the case of public rights, failure to keep these doctrines distinct has undermined judicial ability to offer closure. Attention to the differences in historic preclusion doctrines ultimately provides a direction for modernization in the form of intervention.
 
Jack L. Millman

Jurisdictions have been liberalizing rules surrounding third-party litigation funding or the buying and selling of legal claims since the early twentieth century. Scholars have generally supported liberalization, seeing it as a way to expand access to courts and allow for the more efficient allocation of risk. Opponents have warned about a surge in frivolous litigation and strategic behavior by funders. But both sides have ignored how interrelated the rules governing third-party investment in litigation and the alienability of legal claims are, and how they interact to affect a legal claims market. The focus on reform should be to adjust these rules to create the optimal legal claims market. Instead, reform has increasingly focused on liberalizing third-party investment while keeping rules around alienability the same, or even barring investors from exercising control over the suit. This risks creating new problems without effectively solving many of the issues reform is meant to solve. This incremental approach comes with real costs, and may actually prevent a well-developed legal claims market from developing.

Linda J. Silberman & Aaron D. Simowitz

In Daimler AG v. Bauman, the Supreme Court confirmed what it had only hinted at previously—that general jurisdiction over a corporation is limited only to a state which can be regarded as its “home.” In doing so, the Court brought the United States closer to the rest of the world in its approach to general jurisdiction. What may have been overlooked, however, is the impact of Daimler on actions brought to recognize and enforce foreign country judgments and foreign arbitral awards if the Daimler standard is applied in that context. Some courts have already done so. Professors Silberman and Simowitz offer an overview of the present jurisdictional regimes for recognition and enforcement actions with respect to both foreign judgments and arbitral awards. Their own analysis concludes that a jurisdictional nexus should be required for recognition and enforcement but that the context of recognition and enforcement presents unique differences from a plenary action. Thus, they argue that Daimler needs to be tailored to fit such actions. Professors Silberman and Simowitz also examine various alternative bases of jurisdiction—property-based jurisdiction, specific jurisdiction, and consent—that may be pressed into service if Daimler is extended to recognition and enforcement actions, and find both promise as well as limits in those alternatives.

Kevin D. Benish

This Note evaluates general personal jurisdiction based on a "consent-by-registration" theory, arguing that this old basis of jurisdiction is unconstitutional after Daimler AG v. Bauman. Daimler overturned nearly seventy years of law on general jurisdiction, and in doing so provoked the return to a basis of jurisdiction dating back to Pennoyer v. Neff, with plaintiffs arguing that foreign corporations "consent" to general jurisdiction when they register to do business in states outside their place of incorporation or principal place of business. But Pennoyer is dead. Thus, the question is whether Pennoyer's ghost provides a constitutional basis for general jurisdiction, even after Daimler's severe limitations of it.

Jonathan J. Ossip

The federal courts are currently divided on how to determine the diversity citizenship of trusts. Several circuits hold that trusts take the citizenship of their trustees. Another circuit holds that trusts take the citizenship of the trust’s beneficiaries, and yet another considers the citizenships of both the trustees and the beneficiaries. But beyond this circuit split, a more significant problem plagues the law in this area: The courts of appeals have failed to recognize the distinction between traditional and business trusts. The former—what is most commonly thought of as a trust—is a gift and estate planning tool. The latter is an alternative to incorporation, and is designed to run a business and generate profit for investors.

In this Note, I examine the differences between traditional and business trusts in the context of federal diversity jurisdiction. After discussing the history of diversity jurisdiction and the nature of these two forms of trusts, I explore the current circuit split over the citizenship rules for trusts. I then propose a new rule that fits within the current Supreme Court case law in the field: Traditional trusts take the citizenship of their trustees, while business trusts take the citizenship of their members—the beneficiaries. Having proposed a rule that depends upon the type of trust at issue, I conclude by explaining that a trust can be classified by determining the primary purpose for which it was organized.

Audrey Feldman

The United States is distinct among nations in its constitutionalization of personal jurisdiction. This Note explains the intertwined history of U.S. specific jurisdiction law and the so-called “Hague Judgments Project,” which is facilitating negotiations toward a treaty regulating recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. This Note argues that the constitutionality of any such proposed treaty will remain uncertain unless U.S. courts clarify existing personal jurisdictional doctrine, particularly regarding the “jurisdictional filters” question: May U.S. courts lawfully recognize and enforce a foreign judgment issued upon a jurisdictional basis that would have been unconstitutional in domestic litigation? This Note answers “yes,” at least when the foreign court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction is compatible with internationally accepted norms. By proposing a cogent response to this question, this Note hopes to facilitate the negotiation and adoption of a future judgments convention.

Hiro N. Aragaki

Recent Supreme Court decisions such as American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant, 133 S. Ct. 2304 (2013), and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011), represent dramatic developments with implications that extend far beyond the arbitration context. These decisions are a product of what the author refers to as the “contract model” of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Heretofore largely unquestioned, the contract model posits the FAA’s original and dominant purpose as the promotion of private ordering in dispute resolution, as free as possible from state regulation. The model has, in turn, helped courts and commentators claim that the FAA requires arbitration agreements to be enforced strictly “according to their terms”—without regard to the way those agreements might compromise procedural values, such as when they preclude classwide relief.

 
This Article questions both the descriptive accuracy and normative persuasiveness of the contract model. It argues that when placed in their proper historical context, the FAA’s text and legislative history appear equally consistent (if not more so) with a purpose to improve upon the widely discussed procedural failings of the courts circa 1925. From this standpoint, the FAA can be understood as an offshoot of ongoing efforts at the time to reform procedure in the federal courts—efforts spearheaded by figures such as Roscoe Pound and Charles E. Clark, and that eventually culminated in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1938. The FAA, in short, was arguably a type of procedural reform.

 
These insights lead the author to propose a “procedural reform” model of the FAA, one that he contends is both more faithful to the statute’s history (legislative and otherwise) and more adept at answering the difficult questions that confront arbitration law in the age of “contract procedure.” The author considers two recent examples to illustrate.

Jacob J. Taber

Plaintiffs seeking to institute a civil action in federal court must plead the grounds for the court’s subject-matter jurisdiction over their claim; if they cannot adequately do so, their claim will be dismissed. Recently, courts have started to apply the plausibility rule announced in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal—which requires plaintiffs to plead facts plausibly showing their entitlement to relief—to the pleading of subject-matter jurisdiction. This Note argues that such a novel shift in how jurisdiction is pleaded is neither supported nor necessitated by Twombly and Iqbal and is fundamentally incompatible with long-settled jurisdictional doctrine. It therefore recommends that district court judges redouble their attention to the articulation of procedural rules of decision (eschewing reliance upon boilerplate) and desist from imposing heightened pleading of subject-matter jurisdiction without considering the question as a matter of first impression.

David Shieh

As many as 98,000 people die each year as a result of medical error. According to law and economics scholars, the solution to this problem is straightforward: When calibrated correctly, medical malpractice liability will force healthcare providers to internalize the cost of their negligence, incentivizing improvements to patient safety that will reduce medical error. Debate has raged for decades over the coherence of deterrence theory, but little attention has been paid to the erosion of one of its bedrock assumptions: that the procedural mechanism through which claims are to be resolved is litigation. Arbitration has become pervasive in the healthcare context, but its effects on medical malpractice liability’s ability to deter medical error have been largely overlooked by public health and legal scholars. This Note argues that the adoption of arbitration will not, as law and economics scholars assume, improve the medical malpractice regime’s ability to deter error. In addition to drawing on existing law and economics and public health scholarship to advance this descriptive claim, this Note studies the experience of Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest integrated healthcare consortium, in using arbitration to resolve medical malpractice disputes with its seven million members in California.

 

Matthew J. Ahn

Foreign law has become an increasingly important element of many cases brought before federal courts. Rule 44.1, which controls determinations of foreign law, is intended to make the process for determining foreign law as painless as possible, but like the regime that preceded it, it has become a procedural minefield for those wishing to rely on foreign law, as courts have declined to apply Rule 44.1 when it should be used, either deliberately or due to uncertainty as to its application. This is in large part due to the lack of concrete standards outlined in the rule. This Note examines the standards associated with the rule and their application in the years immediately after its promulgation and concludes that the reliant party’s burden of production with respect to foreign law should vary based on whether statutory text is provided. If a statute is available, the courts should be required to undertake a Rule 44.1 analysis, while if a statute is unavailable, the reliant party should bear the burden of producing substantial evidence of foreign law. This standard, elaborated in the text of Rule 44.1, should ensure that as many foreign law determinations as possible can be resolved on the merits.

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