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Monday, January 21, 2013

Erieblogging: Day Twenty-One

Yet another puzzle about the twin aims of Erie (the goal in diversity cases of uniformity between federal procedural common law and the law used in a forum state court, to avoid “forum shopping” and the “inequitable administration of the laws"). The question of the day is this: What did Warren mean in Hanna by the inequitable administration of the laws?  

Assume New York's statute of limitations for negligence actions is two years. I can see how it would cause forum shopping if a federal court sitting in diversity in New York entertaining a New York negligence action used a three-year federal common law time limit. But why would it be the inequitable administration of the laws? Where's the inequity? The reason cannot be that the New York Court of Appeals would say that it wants its two-year limit to be used by the federal court, for the twin aims are not concerned with what the supreme court of the forum state or the supreme court of the state that created the cause of action has to say about the matter. 

Warren doesn't suggest it would be inequitable if a Pennsylvania state court applied its three-year statute of limitations to the New York action. Nor does he suggest it would be inequitable if Congress came up with a three-year statute of limitations for state-law negligence actions brought in federal court. So what is inequitable about a federal common law time limit?  Note: This question counts as underexplored, not unexplored.

(Parallel posted on Michael Green's Civ Pro Blog.)

Posted by Michael Steven Green on January 21, 2013 at 09:34 PM in Civil Procedure | Permalink

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