Civil Procedure Class Notes
More on Gordon today!
We’ll have to make up a week
in November. Details to come!
About Pennoyer – multiple readings will do it!
Legally Blonde! The profs love their technology!
Gordon v. Steele is in the movie!
“They’re wrong! I can’t believe it!”
“You can find Civil Procedure
humor everywhere you go.”
The suit was filed in the
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Susan Gordon alleged that two doctors and a
What is the procedural
posture of this case? What does “procedural
posture” mean? At what stage of the case
is the opinion being drafted? It looks
like the lawyers filed a motion to dismiss for lack of diversity.
When you’re reading a case
in Civil Procedure, don’t forget to find out what stage of procedure the case
What would have happened if
the court had granted the motion to dismiss?
The judge would have written an order to dismiss the case. What would Gordon have to do? She could maybe file the case in state court
Courts move on their own
timetable. Sometimes judges take a “peek” at the
merits of the case and that may influence their decision on a point of
procedure. The trial is the only place
where you determine whether the case is meritorious.
Judges are loathe to close litigants out.
If the state courthouse in
the federal court has a “rocket docket”!
the lawyer knew the federal judges better than the state judges.
the opposing lawyers aren’t as familiar with federal court. In other words, maybe you’ll gain a tactical
advantage from filing in federal court.
you’d get a different jury composition in federal court than state court.
the constitutional reason: local prejudice.
We wanted federal judges to be able to hear cross-state complaints
because we thought local judges would be biased.
federal rules of evidence apply in federal court, but state rules of evidence
apply in state court. The federal rules
of evidence would have been more favorable for the plaintiff, especially in
regard to expert testimony.
This is what we call forum
The tort law of the state
Reasoning of the Judge in
The judge denies the motion,
meaning he finds that Gordon is a citizen of
Where does diversity
jurisdiction come from? First off, from
the Constitution. Then there’s a statute
that authorizes that authority to the federal court. This is 28 U.S.C. Section 1332.
You need to allege over
$75,000 in damages in order to qualify for diversity jurisdiction. (At the time, it was $10,000.)
What sources does the judge draw
on for precedent? He uses a case from
the Third Circuit, because that’s the circuit they’re
in. The only authority that is binding
on the judge is the Third Circuit.
He relies heavily on Krasnov. Krasnov gives us the rule of law.
“One domiciled in a state
when a suit is begun is a citizen.”
But what does domiciled
mean? That’s next.
You must have intent to
remain, plus residence in that state. That makes a domicile.
So for Gordon, residency is
no problem. She’s in
Somebody asked and she
answered…how, procedurally, did we find out her intention? She was deposed. There was a deposition. Your deposition is then admissible at
trial or as evidence in the motion to dismiss.
This is part of discovery.
Prof. Wright gives some
examples of what would establish the intent to remain: exercise of political
rights, payment of taxes, house of residence, and place of business, for
So the court weighs the
factors that make Gordon a PA citizen versus the info that makes Gordon seem to
The court looks at a “laundry
list” on each side.
Tomorrow we’ll start with a
final comment on Gordon…what stereotypes did the judge have about women?
Tomorrow we’ll start on