Choice of law question.

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MoltenWings
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Choice of law question.

Postby MoltenWings » Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:41 pm

If a plaintiff brings a suit in federal district court, does the the substantive law of the state in which the district court automatically apply?

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sopranorleone
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby sopranorleone » Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:56 pm

From what I understand (taking Conflicts this semester) a fed district court must use the choice-of-law rule of the state in which it sits. If, from using that CoL rule, it determines that that state's law applies, then it uses that state's substantive law. So, I guess the answer to your question is, no, it does not automatically apply.

MoltenWings
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby MoltenWings » Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:16 pm

sopranorleone wrote:From what I understand (taking Conflicts this semester) a fed district court must use the choice-of-law rule of the state in which it sits. If, from using that CoL rule, it determines that that state's law applies, then it uses that state's substantive law. So, I guess the answer to your question is, no, it does not automatically apply.

But if a case is brought directly into the federal district court (say EDNY), wouldn't a choice of law analysis not apply because the district court would just apply the substantive law of New York?

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stillwater
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby stillwater » Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:17 pm

MoltenWings wrote:
sopranorleone wrote:From what I understand (taking Conflicts this semester) a fed district court must use the choice-of-law rule of the state in which it sits. If, from using that CoL rule, it determines that that state's law applies, then it uses that state's substantive law. So, I guess the answer to your question is, no, it does not automatically apply.

But if a case is brought directly into the federal district court (say EDNY), wouldn't a choice of law analysis not apply because the district court would just apply the substantive law of New York?


nah, it would apply NY choice of law to figure out which substantive law to apply.

MoltenWings
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby MoltenWings » Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:49 pm

stillwater wrote:
MoltenWings wrote:
sopranorleone wrote:From what I understand (taking Conflicts this semester) a fed district court must use the choice-of-law rule of the state in which it sits. If, from using that CoL rule, it determines that that state's law applies, then it uses that state's substantive law. So, I guess the answer to your question is, no, it does not automatically apply.

But if a case is brought directly into the federal district court (say EDNY), wouldn't a choice of law analysis not apply because the district court would just apply the substantive law of New York?


nah, it would apply NY choice of law to figure out which substantive law to apply.


Sorry for the newb questions, I am just confused...

Example: plaintiff, citizen of PA, sues defendant, citizen of NJ) in EDNY for common law tort. Common law tort is substantive law. Wouldn't EDNY just apply the common law tort of NY? If not, what other substantive law could EDNY use?

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sopranorleone
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby sopranorleone » Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:59 pm

MoltenWings wrote:
stillwater wrote:
MoltenWings wrote:
sopranorleone wrote:From what I understand (taking Conflicts this semester) a fed district court must use the choice-of-law rule of the state in which it sits. If, from using that CoL rule, it determines that that state's law applies, then it uses that state's substantive law. So, I guess the answer to your question is, no, it does not automatically apply.

But if a case is brought directly into the federal district court (say EDNY), wouldn't a choice of law analysis not apply because the district court would just apply the substantive law of New York?


nah, it would apply NY choice of law to figure out which substantive law to apply.


Sorry for the newb questions, I am just confused...

Example: plaintiff, citizen of PA, sues defendant, citizen of NJ) in EDNY for common law tort. Common law tort is substantive law. Wouldn't EDNY just apply the common law tort of NY? If not, what other substantive law could EDNY use?


It really depends on NY's CoL rule.

If it's territoriality, then it would use the law of the place where the tort occurred.

If it's interest analysis, it would determine which states are interested (if any) and the degree of that interest

If it's the second restatement, it would do an analysis of a bunch of factors and presumptive rules.

If it's comparative impairment (which it's not; only CA uses it I think), then it would apply the law of the place whose policies would be most impaired if its substantive law weren't applied.

In short, depending on the CoL rule, NY's, PA's, or NJ's substantive law could apply.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:15 pm

MoltenWings wrote:
stillwater wrote:
MoltenWings wrote:
sopranorleone wrote:From what I understand (taking Conflicts this semester) a fed district court must use the choice-of-law rule of the state in which it sits. If, from using that CoL rule, it determines that that state's law applies, then it uses that state's substantive law. So, I guess the answer to your question is, no, it does not automatically apply.

But if a case is brought directly into the federal district court (say EDNY), wouldn't a choice of law analysis not apply because the district court would just apply the substantive law of New York?


nah, it would apply NY choice of law to figure out which substantive law to apply.


Sorry for the newb questions, I am just confused...

Example: plaintiff, citizen of PA, sues defendant, citizen of NJ) in EDNY for common law tort. Common law tort is substantive law. Wouldn't EDNY just apply the common law tort of NY? If not, what other substantive law could EDNY use?

I think you're sort of missing an analytical step. You're thinking Erie, state substantive law, done. But choice of law *is* a form of substantive law, and each forum will have a different law with respect to what law applies where there is a conflict. So the federal court looks to state "substantive" law... to determine what "actual" substantive law applies, e.g. what tort/contract/etc. rules apply.

So yes, it looks to the "substantive law" of the forum state... but only as an initial step to see what further substantive law that state's court would apply.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

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sopranorleone
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby sopranorleone » Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:26 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:
MoltenWings wrote:
stillwater wrote:
MoltenWings wrote:But if a case is brought directly into the federal district court (say EDNY), wouldn't a choice of law analysis not apply because the district court would just apply the substantive law of New York?


nah, it would apply NY choice of law to figure out which substantive law to apply.


Sorry for the newb questions, I am just confused...

Example: plaintiff, citizen of PA, sues defendant, citizen of NJ) in EDNY for common law tort. Common law tort is substantive law. Wouldn't EDNY just apply the common law tort of NY? If not, what other substantive law could EDNY use?

I think you're sort of missing an analytical step. You're thinking Erie, state substantive law, done. But choice of law *is* a form of substantive law, and each forum will have a different law with respect to what law applies where there is a conflict. So the federal court looks to state "substantive" law... to determine what "actual" substantive law applies, e.g. what tort/contract/etc. rules apply.

So yes, it looks to the "substantive law" of the forum state... but only as an initial step to see what further substantive law that state's court would apply.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong.


Not wrong in the slightest

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Bronte
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby Bronte » Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:48 pm

Seems possible that OP is strictly asking a vertical choice of law question (i.e., whether state or federal law applies) and that he's not aware of the horizontal question (i.e., which state's law applies). Maybe he's in 1L civ pro, where in my experience the second question doesn't even come up.

OP, in broad strokes: Federal courts apply federal procedural law, which in practice means they follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when applicable. If the cause of action is federal, like a claim under the Civil Rights Act, they will also apply federal substantive law. In other words, they'll apply the federal statute and read the federal cases.

But if the cause of action sounds in state law, like a tort or contract claim, they'll apply state law. But which state's law? Like I said, in my experience, this question is outside the scope of 1L civ pro. In short, they will apply the "choice of law" rules of the state in which they sit. So a New York federal district court hearing a state law tort claim will apply New York choice of law rules to determine which state's tort law to apply.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sun Nov 10, 2013 10:03 pm

Bronte wrote:Seems possible that OP is strictly asking a vertical choice of law question (i.e., whether state or federal law applies) and that he's not aware of the horizontal question (i.e., which state's law applies). Maybe he's in 1L civ pro, where in my experience the second question doesn't even come up.

OP, in broad strokes: Federal courts apply federal procedural law, which in practice means they follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when applicable. If the cause of action is federal, like a claim under the Civil Rights Act, they will also apply federal substantive law. In other words, they'll apply the federal statute and read the federal cases.

But if the cause of action sounds in state law, like a tort or contract claim, they'll apply state law. But which state's law? Like I said, in my experience, this question is outside the scope of 1L civ pro. In short, they will apply the "choice of law" rules of the state in which they sit. So a New York federal district court hearing a state law tort claim will apply New York choice of law rules to determine which state's tort law to apply.

Yeah good point, we might be complicating the question needlessly.

If you're a 1L, federal courts sitting in diversity apply federal procedural law, state substantive law, full stop.

MoltenWings
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby MoltenWings » Sun Nov 10, 2013 10:49 pm

Bronte wrote:Seems possible that OP is strictly asking a vertical choice of law question (i.e., whether state or federal law applies) and that he's not aware of the horizontal question (i.e., which state's law applies). Maybe he's in 1L civ pro, where in my experience the second question doesn't even come up.

OP, in broad strokes: Federal courts apply federal procedural law, which in practice means they follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when applicable. If the cause of action is federal, like a claim under the Civil Rights Act, they will also apply federal substantive law. In other words, they'll apply the federal statute and read the federal cases.

But if the cause of action sounds in state law, like a tort or contract claim, they'll apply state law. But which state's law? Like I said, in my experience, this question is outside the scope of 1L civ pro. In short, they will apply the "choice of law" rules of the state in which they sit. So a New York federal district court hearing a state law tort claim will apply New York choice of law rules to determine which state's tort law to apply.

Actually, I'm a 3L taking a drafting class that deals with conflict of law.
Your post clears up a lot. Thanks. My only remaining question is this: the cause of action is tort, so the federal district court will apply the choice-of-law rules of New York. In doing a choice of law analysis to determine which state tort law claims should apply, which state tort laws would the district court look at (i.e., what are its choices)? Will they look at the laws of the states that the parties are citizens of? In addition, will the district court look at the tort laws of the state in which the district court sits in?

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:10 pm

MoltenWings wrote:
Bronte wrote:Seems possible that OP is strictly asking a vertical choice of law question (i.e., whether state or federal law applies) and that he's not aware of the horizontal question (i.e., which state's law applies). Maybe he's in 1L civ pro, where in my experience the second question doesn't even come up.

OP, in broad strokes: Federal courts apply federal procedural law, which in practice means they follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when applicable. If the cause of action is federal, like a claim under the Civil Rights Act, they will also apply federal substantive law. In other words, they'll apply the federal statute and read the federal cases.

But if the cause of action sounds in state law, like a tort or contract claim, they'll apply state law. But which state's law? Like I said, in my experience, this question is outside the scope of 1L civ pro. In short, they will apply the "choice of law" rules of the state in which they sit. So a New York federal district court hearing a state law tort claim will apply New York choice of law rules to determine which state's tort law to apply.

Actually, I'm a 3L taking a drafting class that deals with conflict of law.
Your post clears up a lot. Thanks. My only remaining question is this: the cause of action is tort, so the federal district court will apply the choice-of-law rules of New York. In doing a choice of law analysis to determine which state tort law claims should apply, which state tort laws would the district court look at (i.e., what are its choices)? Will they look at the laws of the states that the parties are citizens of? In addition, will the district court look at the tort laws of the state in which the district court sits in?

This stuff gets pretty complicated. They'll generally look at the laws of the places where the parties are domiciled, but the analysis involves things like what forum has the biggest public interest in the case, the parties' interests, etc. I forgot this from bar study as soon as I learned it.

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Lincoln
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby Lincoln » Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:15 pm

MoltenWings wrote:
Bronte wrote:Seems possible that OP is strictly asking a vertical choice of law question (i.e., whether state or federal law applies) and that he's not aware of the horizontal question (i.e., which state's law applies). Maybe he's in 1L civ pro, where in my experience the second question doesn't even come up.

OP, in broad strokes: Federal courts apply federal procedural law, which in practice means they follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when applicable. If the cause of action is federal, like a claim under the Civil Rights Act, they will also apply federal substantive law. In other words, they'll apply the federal statute and read the federal cases.

But if the cause of action sounds in state law, like a tort or contract claim, they'll apply state law. But which state's law? Like I said, in my experience, this question is outside the scope of 1L civ pro. In short, they will apply the "choice of law" rules of the state in which they sit. So a New York federal district court hearing a state law tort claim will apply New York choice of law rules to determine which state's tort law to apply.

Actually, I'm a 3L taking a drafting class that deals with conflict of law.
Your post clears up a lot. Thanks. My only remaining question is this: the cause of action is tort, so the federal district court will apply the choice-of-law rules of New York. In doing a choice of law analysis to determine which state tort law claims should apply, which state tort laws would the district court look at (i.e., what are its choices)? Will they look at the laws of the states that the parties are citizens of? In addition, will the district court look at the tort laws of the state in which the district court sits in?


We honestly can't explain it better than what has already been done. I recommend consulting a treatise or even a casebook (the David Currie one is good) and then doing some case research. New York's CoL rules can be fairly complicated, if I remember right, and there are a few leading cases you will find easily.

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Bronte
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby Bronte » Mon Nov 11, 2013 12:09 am

MoltenWings wrote:Actually, I'm a 3L taking a drafting class that deals with conflict of law.
Your post clears up a lot. Thanks. My only remaining question is this: the cause of action is tort, so the federal district court will apply the choice-of-law rules of New York. In doing a choice of law analysis to determine which state tort law claims should apply, which state tort laws would the district court look at (i.e., what are its choices)? Will they look at the laws of the states that the parties are citizens of? In addition, will the district court look at the tort laws of the state in which the district court sits in?


As others have said, there's an elaborate and probably completely overdetermined body of law on the subject. To make matters worse, there are multiple approaches that can yield different outcomes. But as a general matter the law that governs in a tort action will usually be where the injury took place or where one of the parties lives.

dj_roomba
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Re: Choice of law question.

Postby dj_roomba » Mon Nov 11, 2013 1:48 am

Generally (if you are a 1L in Civ pro) -> State substantive law




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