Law School Discussion

Civil Procedure help!

Civil Procedure help!
« on: October 07, 2005, 08:46:40 PM »

 Can anyone help me here? I'm horrible at civil procedure AND I have a horrible civ pro prof as well. I bought all the E/E etc study aids but can someone explain to me the federal question needed to get into court?

I know its "arising under federal law 1331" and it needs to be well plead by P but what exactly is the creation test? (substantive v statute) and what the *#@#@ is implied federal cause of action?

Thanks so much for your help ...I know you guys are all busy so its much appreciated.


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Re: Civil Procedure help!
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2005, 09:27:34 PM »
The well-pleaded complaint rule is explained in Louisville Railroad v. Mottley.  211 U.S 149. 

From what I have learned in class -- the federal question is one that is directly related to the cause of action.  The remedy for the plaintiff must be based on a direct question of federal law.  For example, if the claim is for a breach of contract (a matter of state law), and if the plaintiff can remedy their problem without ever touching any subject related to federal law, then the case may not be brought into federal court.  However, if the case "turns" or must be decided based on a matter of federal law, then the case is "arising under" federal subject matter jurisdiction and may be decided in federal court.  Also, the case can only be brought into federal court if Congress has allowed for a "private remedy" when passing the statute.  In other words, Congress gives the right to sue for private citizens.  If Congress explicitly states in the statute that there is no private right to sue, then private citizens may not bring suit based on the federal statute.

Have you read Merrell Dow v. Thompson for your class?  That case gives that factors to determine an implied federal cause of action. If it hasn't been assigned, look it up on Lexis or Westlaw -- you will see what I am talking about in the third paragraph under Section II -- 478 U.S. 804.

My civ pro professor is WONDERFUL!!!  It's my favorite class.


Re: Civil Procedure help!
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2005, 05:49:51 AM »
Hey Roxie,

 Thanks! And no my prof is just ALL over the place. He's so horrbile I mean as a teacher. He keeps talking about himself during the whole class and his "days before law school" and only spends a minute on stuff we need to actually learn. I feel like Im going to be the only lawyer who doesn't know how to get into court!

And thank you so much for your help. I will check that case out. What you said makes tons of sense.  ;D

Re: Civil Procedure help!
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2005, 12:28:11 PM »
I would recommend not reading Merrell Dow.  What roxie said about it is what you need to know. It is an important case, but otherwise it might just confuse you.  When there is no explicitly stated private right it must be implied.  In order to determine whether there is an implied right, there is a 4 part test.  I can't remember all 4 parts right now, but maybe just look it up on westlaw as roxie said. 

Sorry, I'm not sure what the creation test is.  Do you just mean a constitutional vs. a statutory (U.S.C. 1331) question of jurisdiction?  The Constitution is very broad and lots of federal jurisdiction could be implied by it while the U.S.C. limits federal jurisdiction to cases "arising under" fed. law and those of diversity citizenship.

Re: Civil Procedure help!
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2005, 04:55:02 PM »
Thanks. Are the four part test part of Mottley? Aka the well pleaded complaint? and creation I think I meant (I don't even know this is what the book says) "arising under" and created by federal law... ???

Re: Civil Procedure help!
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2005, 07:34:18 AM »
Thanks. Are the four part test part of Mottley? Aka the well pleaded complaint? and creation I think I meant (I don't even know this is what the book says) "arising under" and created by federal law... ???

No, the 4 part test is in Merrell Dow. The justices took it from an earlier case, Cort v. Ash.  Basically when there is no private right of action given by a federal statute they take the four part test to determine whether there can be an implied right of action.  Some of the factors I remember off the top of my head are: 1. Whether the plaintiffs are part of a class of persons for whom the statute 2.  Whether the state law provides a sufficient remedy. 

The well-pleaded complaint is something quite different from a right of action.  Like I said if you don't have to read Merrell Dow for your class the whole four part test and implied rights of action might not even be relevant and all you'll need to know about is the well-pleaded complaint and diversity of citizenship when it comes to federal question jurisdiction. 

Re: Civil Procedure help!
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2005, 08:24:25 AM »
these first 2 paragraphs are background to answer your question.  i think they might be helpful, but if just confuse you then ignore 'em.

article III sec. 2 of const. says must be "arising under"
in osborne SC said that all this means that's constitutionally req. for fed ct. to hear a case is that federal matter be "an ingredient of original cause."  that's very broad and would include most cases we study (e.g. mottley, merrel dow).

sec. 1331 of FRCP uses same lang. "arising under" but has been interpr. far more narrowly.  so while constitutionally the legislature could allow fed. cts to hear any case where a federal matter is "an ingredient of original cause" the SC has said that based on sec 1331 of FRCP the legislature only granted federal cts ability to hear cases which fall into a smaller category.

there are two distinct views as to what fits under 1331 and thus fulfills the federal question jurisdiction that is required to try a case in federal ct.

1)  in the P's suit the federal law must "create the cause of action."  this is often referred to as the Holmes principle/test.  under this test, we don't care if federal law authorizes you to sue, but rather, is federal law the cause of the action (shoshone mining).  so for example, under this test, if you get into a car accident, if someone breaks a contract, or if there's an issue regarding a divorce, 99.9% (100%?) of the time the cause of action is a state matter.  under this test, since the cause of action (accident/breach/divorce) is a state matter, the federal cts (aside from supreme ct if constitutional issue) were not granted power to hear the case by the legislature under 1331.

2)  more commonly used today seems to be the mottley rule (even that has been expanded upon to some degree).  here, a suit meets the federal question jurisdiction provided that the minimum neccessary to bring suit requires the P to prove a fed. law.  we don't care that the P happened to raise a federal law in complaint to prove his case, nor do we care if P did or even had to raise a federal law to counter an argument by D.  what we care is this:  if the D said absolutely nothing, would the P absolutely need to prove a fed. law to win the case?
so now sometimes (though still very rarely) a car accident/breach of K/divorce might require the P to bring some fed. law to prove his case.  even though the cause of action was a state matter, it still fits under sec. 1331 according to this 2nd test.

merrel dow brings up a diff. matter and since i dont even know if u still need this i'll leave that out for now.  g'luck.

Re: Civil Procedure help!
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2005, 12:34:20 PM »
Thanks. I think I was/am mainly confused because the books keep talking about (1) federal law has to create the problem and (2) federal law has to be well plead and "pivitol" meaning that the remedy turns on the federal law. So I'm guessing (???) I was trying to lump them together when I'm not supposed to??? It makes more sense now to keep them seperate and I'm suppose to...right?

Re: Civil Procedure help!
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2005, 01:22:05 PM »
your (1) = cause of action rule of holmes
and your (2) = mottley rule (though if wanted to be technical i might word it a lil' differently)

Re: Civil Procedure help!
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2005, 04:47:49 PM »
 ;D Thanks