Byrd v. Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative

356 U.S. 525 (1958)

Yeazell, pp. 281-284


Facts: The plaintiff sued the defendant in tort.  There was an issue of immunity that came up.  Under South Carolina law, this was a matter for the judge, while under federal rules, it was a matter for a jury.


Issue: Should the state policy of having the judge decide a particular issue of fact trump the federal rule of having a jury decide in the interest of uniformity of outcome?


Rule: NEW RULE!  The federal practice will be used when it is not certain that using the federal rule will be outcome-determinative.




Conclusion: The case is reversed and remanded, and the lower courts are instructed to use the federal rule and have the issue of immunity decided by a jury and not a judge.


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