Federal question question

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delusional
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Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Federal question question

Postby delusional » Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:17 am

In Mottley, where the couple had their railroad passes discontinued, and in Harms, where the copyright contract was broken, would the plaintiffs have been able to stay in Fed court if they had framed their complaints differently? (yeah, I know my prof discussed it, but I don't have in my notes, and I'm studying in isolation.)

lawnerd1
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Re: Federal question question

Postby lawnerd1 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:34 am

Didn't read Harms, but I'm pretty sure Mottley would not have been dismissed had they raised a federal question in their original complaint. The Mottley's were suing because they weren't being allowed to ride on the RR for free as they had been promised (breach of contract). Louisville wasn't letting them on their trains for free because they were claiming that the passes were now invalid due to the enactment of a federal statute that banned giving free RR passes. Whether or not Louisville's contract with the Mottley's was still valid because it existed prior to enactment of the statute was a valid federal question. So, had they plead their complaint well and put all of this in it, they would not have been dismissed sua sponte. I think.

Hope that makes sense.

delusional
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Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: Federal question question

Postby delusional » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:57 pm

lawnerd1 wrote:Didn't read Harms, but I'm pretty sure Mottley would not have been dismissed had they raised a federal question in their original complaint. The Mottley's were suing because they weren't being allowed to ride on the RR for free as they had been promised (breach of contract). Louisville wasn't letting them on their trains for free because they were claiming that the passes were now invalid due to the enactment of a federal statute that banned giving free RR passes. Whether or not Louisville's contract with the Mottley's was still valid because it existed prior to enactment of the statute was a valid federal question. So, had they plead their complaint well and put all of this in it, they would not have been dismissed sua sponte. I think.

Hope that makes sense.

Perfect, that was exactly what I was wondering.

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hdivschool
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Re: Federal question question

Postby hdivschool » Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:00 pm

lawnerd1 wrote:Didn't read Harms, but I'm pretty sure Mottley would not have been dismissed had they raised a federal question in their original complaint. The Mottley's were suing because they weren't being allowed to ride on the RR for free as they had been promised (breach of contract). Louisville wasn't letting them on their trains for free because they were claiming that the passes were now invalid due to the enactment of a federal statute that banned giving free RR passes. Whether or not Louisville's contract with the Mottley's was still valid because it existed prior to enactment of the statute was a valid federal question. So, had they plead their complaint well and put all of this in it, they would not have been dismissed sua sponte. I think.

Hope that makes sense.


You're right that their claim would have had subject matter jurisdiction if they raised a federal question in their complaint, but they would probably not be able to do so in a breach of contract claim. Answers to possible defenses (i.e. that the contract is still valid even under the new law) are not part of a well-pleaded complaint. They might seek declaratory relief, which would present the federal question on its face, but that will probably fail because the in-lieu-of suit doesn't present a federal question.




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