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Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

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Introduction To A Festschrift Honoring Professor Rhonda Wasserman, Deborah L. Brake Jan 2023

Introduction To A Festschrift Honoring Professor Rhonda Wasserman, Deborah L. Brake

Articles

Rhonda Wasserman joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1986, after graduating from Yale Law School and practicing law in New York City for three years. She has been a powerhouse on the Pitt Law faculty for three and a half decades. In that time, she served in many roles, including Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and, outside the law school, Reporter to the Local Rules Committee of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. She has been recognized with numerous titles and honors, such as John E. Murray Faculty Scholar, …


The Roberts Court And Lost Esi, Jeffrey A. Parness Jan 2022

The Roberts Court And Lost Esi, Jeffrey A. Parness

College of Law Faculty Publications

John G. Roberts, Jr. was confirmed as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in September 2005. Since then, there have been two major changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) involving losses of discoverable electronically stored information (ESI). These changes address the duties of preserving some ESI for federal civil litigation and the sanctions available for preservation failures. The changes were embodied in FRCP 37, once in 2006 and once in 2015. The current Rule 37(e) provisions have always been accompanied by other FRCP discovery provisions on ESI, with some predating any version of Rule 37(e). To …


State Spoliation Claims In Federal District Courts, Jeffrey A. Parness Jan 2022

State Spoliation Claims In Federal District Courts, Jeffrey A. Parness

College of Law Faculty Publications

The increasing amounts of electronically stored information (ESI) relevant to civil litigation, and the ease of their loss, caused federal lawmakers explicitly to address the possible consequences of certain pre-suit or post-suit ESI losses. These lawmakers acted in both 2006 and 2015 through Federal Civil Procedure (FRCP) 37(e). But they acted only on certain ESI. Their actions have prompted increasing attention to the significant risks of pre-suit and post-suit losses of all ESI, and of non-ESI, otherwise discoverable in civil actions. In addition, their actions have spurred increasing attention to the availability of substantive law claims involving spoliation of information …


Rule 4(K), Nationwide Personal Jurisdiction, And The Civil Rules Advisory Committee: Lessons From Attempted Reform, A. Benjamin Spencer Jan 2022

Rule 4(K), Nationwide Personal Jurisdiction, And The Civil Rules Advisory Committee: Lessons From Attempted Reform, A. Benjamin Spencer

Faculty Publications

On multiple occasions, I have advocated for a revision to Rule 4(k) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that would disconnect personal jurisdiction in federal courts from the jurisdictional limits of their respective host states—to no avail. In this Essay, I will review—one final time—my argument for nationwide personal jurisdiction in the federal courts, recount my (failed) attempt to persuade the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules to embrace my view, and reflect on what lessons may be drawn from the experience regarding the civil rulemaking process. My aim is to prompt discussion around potential rulemaking reforms and to equip …


Civil Rights, Access To Counsel, And Injunctive Class Actions In The United States, Maureen Carroll Jan 2021

Civil Rights, Access To Counsel, And Injunctive Class Actions In The United States, Maureen Carroll

Book Chapters

According to a familiar story about class actions in the United States, aggregation promotes access to counsel by increasing the amount of money from which counsel fees can be taken. Courts usually award class counsel a percentage of the monetary recovery obtained on behalf of the class, and class treatment can turn a $30 case into a $3 million case. But what about class actions that do not involve monetary relief at all? Some civil rights plaintiffs seek to stop a violation, rather than to obtain compensation for past harm, and therefore choose to pursue only an injunction or declaratory …


Politics, Identity, And Pleading Decisions On The U.S. Courts Of Appeals, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang Jan 2021

Politics, Identity, And Pleading Decisions On The U.S. Courts Of Appeals, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang

All Faculty Scholarship

We report the results of an empirical study of appeals from rulings on motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) after the Supreme Court’s decisions in Twombly and Iqbal. We first describe the role that pleading was intended to play in the original (1938) Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, review the Court’s decisions in Twombly and Iqbal, and offer a brief discussion of common themes in normative scholarship that is critical of Twombly and Iqbal, including the claim that they threaten to amplify ideological and subjective decision-making, particularly …


Class Certification In The U.S. Courts Of Appeals: A Longitudinal Study, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang Jan 2021

Class Certification In The U.S. Courts Of Appeals: A Longitudinal Study, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang

All Faculty Scholarship

There is a vast literature on the modern class action, but little of it is informed by systematic empirical data. Mindful both that there have been few Supreme Court class certification decisions and that they may not provide an accurate picture of class action jurisprudence, let alone class action activity, over time, we created a comprehensive data set of class certification decisions in the United States Courts of Appeals consisting of all precedential panel decisions addressing whether a class should be certified from 1966 through 2017, and of nonprecedential panel decisions from 2002 through 2017.

In Section I, through a …


Politics, Identity, And Class Certification On The U.S. Courts Of Appeals, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang Jan 2020

Politics, Identity, And Class Certification On The U.S. Courts Of Appeals, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang

All Faculty Scholarship

This Article draws on novel data and presents the results of the first empirical analysis of how potentially salient characteristics of Court of Appeals judges influence class certification under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. We find that the ideological composition of the panel (measured by the party of the appointing president) has a very strong association with certification outcomes, with all-Democratic panels having dramatically higher rates of procertification outcomes than all-Republican panels—nearly triple in about the past twenty years. We also find that the presence of one African American on a panel, and the presence of …


The Territorial Reach Of Federal Courts, A. Benjamin Spencer Jul 2019

The Territorial Reach Of Federal Courts, A. Benjamin Spencer

Faculty Publications

Federal courts exercise the sovereign authority of the United States when they assert personal jurisdiction over a defendant. As components of the national sovereign, federal courts' maximum territorial reach is determined by the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause, which permits jurisdiction over persons with sufficient minimum contacts with the United States and over property located therein. Why, then, are federal courts limited to the territorial reach of the states in which they sit when they exercise personal jurisdiction in most cases? There is no constitutional or statutory mandate that so constrains the federal judicial reach. Rather, it is by operation …


Substance, Procedure, And The Rules Enabling Act, A. Benjamin Spencer Apr 2019

Substance, Procedure, And The Rules Enabling Act, A. Benjamin Spencer

Faculty Publications

The Supreme Court promulgates rules of procedure (based on the proposals of subordinate rulemaking committees) pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act. This statute empowers the Court to prescribe "general rules of practice and procedure," with the caveat that "[s]uch rules shall not abridge, enlarge or modify any substantive right." The Act is supposed to stand as a real constraint on what rules or alterations thereof the subordinate rulemaking bodies will consider or propose, as well as on how the Court will choose to interpret any given codified Federal Rule. However, the Act has not-to date-been employed to invalidate a promulgated …


Pleading Conditions Of The Mind Under Rule 9(B): Repairing The Damage Wrought By Iqbal, A. Benjamin Spencer Feb 2019

Pleading Conditions Of The Mind Under Rule 9(B): Repairing The Damage Wrought By Iqbal, A. Benjamin Spencer

Faculty Publications

In 2009, the Supreme Court decided Ashcroft v. Iqbal, in which it pronounced-among other things- that the second sentence of Rule 9(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure-which permits allegations of malice, intent, knowledge, and other conditions of the mind to be alleged "generally" -requires adherence to the plausibility pleading· standard it had devised for Rule 8(a)(2) in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly. That is, to plead such allegations sufficiently, one must offer sufficient facts to render the condition-of-the-mind allegation plausible. This rewriting of the standard imposed by Rule 9(b)'s second sentence-which came only veritable moments after the Court …


Mootness Fees, Matthew D. Cain, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon, Randall Thomas Jan 2019

Mootness Fees, Matthew D. Cain, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon, Randall Thomas

All Faculty Scholarship

In response to a sharp increase in litigation challenging mergers, the Delaware Chancery Court issued the 2016 Trulia decision, which substantively reduced the attractiveness of Delaware as a forum for these suits. In this Article, we empirically assess the response of plaintiffs’ attorneys to these developments. Specifically, we document a troubling trend—the flight of merger litigation to federal court where these cases are overwhelmingly resolved through voluntary dismissals that provide no benefit to the plaintiff class but generate a payment to plaintiffs’ counsel in the form of a mootness fee. In 2018, for example, 77% of deals with litigation were …


Class Actions, Indivisibility, And Rule 23(B)(2), Maureen Carroll Jan 2019

Class Actions, Indivisibility, And Rule 23(B)(2), Maureen Carroll

Articles

The federal class-action rule contains a provision, Rule 23(b)(2), that authorizes class-wide injunctive or declaratory relief for class-wide wrongs. The procedural needs of civil rights litigation motivated the adoption of the provision in 1966, and in the intervening years, it has played an important role in managing efforts to bring about systemic change. At the same time, courts have sometimes struggled to articulate what plaintiffs must show in order to invoke Rule 23(b)(2). A few years ago, the Supreme Court weighed in, stating that the key to this type of class action is the “indivisible” nature of the remedy the …


Aligning Incentives And Cost Allocation In Discovery, Jonathan R. Nash, Joanna M. Shepherd Jan 2018

Aligning Incentives And Cost Allocation In Discovery, Jonathan R. Nash, Joanna M. Shepherd

Faculty Articles

Recent proposals to revise Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 to incorporate cost allocation of discovery have sparked considerable controversy. Advocates for reform argue that replacing the long-standing “producer-pays” presumption with something more akin to a “requester-pays” rule would better align economic incentives and reduce litigants’ ability to wield discovery as an instrument to force settlement. Opponents argue that such a reform would limit access to justice by saddling requesters with an ex ante burden of funding the opposition’s discovery.

In this Article, we explain that either a rule requiring both parties to share the costs of discovery (“cost-sharing rule”) …


Bespoke Discovery, Jessica Erickson Jan 2018

Bespoke Discovery, Jessica Erickson

Law Faculty Publications

The U.S. legal system gives contracting parties significant freedom to customize the procedures that will govern their future disputes. With forum selection clauses, parties can decide where they will litigate future disputes. With fee-shifting provisions, they can choose who will pay for these suits. And with arbitration clauses, they can make upfront decisions to opt out of the traditional legal system altogether. Parties can also waive their right to appeal, their right to a jury trial, and their right to file a class action. Bespoke procedure, in other words, is commonplace in the United States.

Far less common, however, are …


Uncovering Through Discovery (Book Review), Sergio J. Campos Jan 2018

Uncovering Through Discovery (Book Review), Sergio J. Campos

Articles

No abstract provided.


Just And Speedy: On Civil Discovery Sanctions For Luddite Lawyers, Michael Thomas Murphy Jan 2017

Just And Speedy: On Civil Discovery Sanctions For Luddite Lawyers, Michael Thomas Murphy

All Faculty Scholarship

This article presents a theoretical model by which a judge could impose civil sanctions on an attorney - relying in part on Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure - for that attorney’s failure to utilize time- and expense-saving technology.

Rule 1 now charges all participants in the legal system to ensure the “just, speedy and inexpensive” resolution of disputes. In today’s litigation environment, a lawyer managing a case in discovery needs robust technological competence to meet that charge. However, the legal industry is slow to adopt technology, favoring “tried and true” methods over efficiency. This conflict is …


The Triangle Of Law And The Role Of Evidence In Class Action Litigation, Jonah B. Gelbach Jan 2017

The Triangle Of Law And The Role Of Evidence In Class Action Litigation, Jonah B. Gelbach

All Faculty Scholarship

In Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo, a "donning and doffing" case brought under Iowa state law incorporating the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime pay provisions, the petitioners asked the Supreme Court to reject the use of statistical evidence in Rule 23(b)(3) class certification. To its great credit, the Court refused. In its majority opinion, the Court cited both the Federal Rules of Evidence and federal common law interpreting the FLSA. In this paper, I take a moderately deep dive into the facts of the case, and the three opinions penned by Justice Kennedy (for the Court), Chief Justice Roberts (in …


Class Actions And The Counterrevolution Against Federal Litigation, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang Jan 2017

Class Actions And The Counterrevolution Against Federal Litigation, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang

All Faculty Scholarship

In this article we situate consideration of class actions in a framework, and fortify it with data, that we have developed as part of a larger project, the goal of which is to assess the counterrevolution against private enforcement of federal law from an institutional perspective. In a series of articles emerging from the project, we have documented how the Executive, Congress and the Supreme Court (wielding both judicial power under Article III of the Constitution and delegated legislative power under the Rules Enabling Act) fared in efforts to reverse or dull the effects of statutory and other incentives for …


Occam's Phaser: Making Proportional Discovery (Finally) Work In Litigation By Requiring Phased Discovery, Michael Thomas Murphy Apr 2016

Occam's Phaser: Making Proportional Discovery (Finally) Work In Litigation By Requiring Phased Discovery, Michael Thomas Murphy

All Faculty Scholarship

This is an article about solving the problem of expensive electronic discovery in litigation by simply learning the most important facts first. Judges and parties often complain that the scope of information included in fact discovery in civil litigation is overinclusive and disproportionate to size of the dispute, resulting in overly expensive costs. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure recently changed again to further emphasize the use of “proportional” limits in discovery, but provide little practical mechanism for parties, lawyers, and judges to make discovery “right-sized.” This Article proposes that parties should be required to “phase” discovery by first setting …


Class Action Myopia, Maureen Carroll Feb 2016

Class Action Myopia, Maureen Carroll

Articles

Over the past two decades, courts and commentators have often treated the class action as though it were a monolith, limiting their analysis to the particular class form that joins together a large number of claims for monetary relief This Article argues that the myopic focus on the aggregated-damages class action has led to undertheorization of the other class-action subtypes, which serve far different purposes and have far different effects, and has allowed the ongoing backlash against the aggregated-damages class action to affect the other subtypes in an undifferentiated manner. The failure to confine this backlash to its intended target …


A Curious Motion: The Uncertain Role Of Anti-Slapp Statutes In Federal Courts, Markus A. Brazill Jan 2016

A Curious Motion: The Uncertain Role Of Anti-Slapp Statutes In Federal Courts, Markus A. Brazill

Prize Winning Papers

No abstract provided.


The Subterranean Counterrevolution: The Supreme Court, The Media, And Litigation Retrenchment, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang Jan 2016

The Subterranean Counterrevolution: The Supreme Court, The Media, And Litigation Retrenchment, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang

All Faculty Scholarship

This article is part of a larger project to study the counterrevolution against private enforcement of federal law from an institutional perspective. In a series of articles emerging from the project, we show how the Executive, Congress and the Supreme Court (wielding both judicial power under Article III of the Constitution and delegated legislative power under the Rules Enabling Act) fared in efforts to reverse or dull the effects of statutory and other incentives for private enforcement. An institutional perspective helps to explain the outcome we document: the long-term erosion of the infrastructure of private enforcement as a result of …


Calling An End To Culling: Predictive Coding And The New Federal Rules Of Civil Procedure, Stephanie Serhan Jan 2016

Calling An End To Culling: Predictive Coding And The New Federal Rules Of Civil Procedure, Stephanie Serhan

Law Student Publications

This paper examines the impact of the most recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the current split between courts about whether predictive coding should be applied at the outset or to a set of keyword-culled documents. Since the new Rules explicitly implement the concept of proportionality and a new set of standards in Rule 26, I argue that applying predictive coding at the outset is more compliant with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Part II will explain the difference in timing between applying predictive coding after keyword culling or prior to it, and discuss the …


Diagnosis And Treatment Of The "Superiority Problem", Jay Tidmarsh Jan 2016

Diagnosis And Treatment Of The "Superiority Problem", Jay Tidmarsh

Journal Articles

Christine Bartholomew has provided a brilliant diagnosis of the "superiority problem" in class-action law, although I am not convinced that her plan to treat the will cure the patient. If superiority is to be eliminated, predominance must also be abandoned. Some new formula must replace Rule 23(b)(3) in its entirety. The problem of Rule 23(b)(3) is that the factors (especially superiority) give too much power to courts to get the results they want. Unless the ills that Professor Bartholomew documents are to be repeated in a new form, any replacement for Rule 23(b)(3) must be far more specific and concrete …


De Facto Class Actions: Plaintiff-And Defendant-Oriented Injunctions In Voting Rights, Election Law, And Other Constitutional Cases, Michael T. Morley Jan 2016

De Facto Class Actions: Plaintiff-And Defendant-Oriented Injunctions In Voting Rights, Election Law, And Other Constitutional Cases, Michael T. Morley

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


The Forms Had A Function: Rule 84 And The Appendix Of Forms As Guardians Of The Liberal Ethos In Civil Procedure, A. Benjamin Spencer Jul 2015

The Forms Had A Function: Rule 84 And The Appendix Of Forms As Guardians Of The Liberal Ethos In Civil Procedure, A. Benjamin Spencer

Faculty Publications

The Appendix of Forms that, from the time of their adoption have accom - panied the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, are a seeming anachronism, more appropriate for a much simpler time that hardly characterizes modem day federal civil litigation. Perhaps the form for a negligence complaint is the most striking in this regard, offering only that at a certain time and place "the defendant negligently drove a motor vehicle against the plaintiff," causing harm.2 Not only does such a complaint fail to typify the negligence claims one might find on any federal docket, but it also fails to reflect …


Scott V. Harris And The Future Of Summary Judgment, Tobias Barrington Wolff Jul 2015

Scott V. Harris And The Future Of Summary Judgment, Tobias Barrington Wolff

All Faculty Scholarship

The Supreme Court’s decision in Scott v. Harris has quickly become a staple in many Civil Procedure courses, and small wonder. The cinematic high-speed car chase complete with dash-cam video and the Court’s controversial treatment of that video evidence seem tailor-made for classroom discussion. As is often true with instant classics, however, splashy first impressions can mask a more complex state of affairs. At the heart of Scott v. Harris lies the potential for a radical doctrinal reformation: a shift in the core summary judgment standard undertaken to justify a massive expansion of interlocutory appellate jurisdiction in qualified immunity cases. …


Rationalizing Cost Allocation In Civil Discovery, A. Benjamin Spencer Jan 2015

Rationalizing Cost Allocation In Civil Discovery, A. Benjamin Spencer

Faculty Publications

A movement is afoot to revise the longstanding presumption that in civil litigation the producing party bears the cost of production in response to discovery requests. An amendment to Rule 26( c )-which took effect in December 2015-makes explicit courts' authority to issue protective orders that shift discovery costs away from producing parties. But this authority is not new; what is new is what may be coming next-an undoing of the producer-pays presumption itself. Thus far, the sentiment to move in this direction has been slightly below the radar, advocated by probusiness interest groups and advocates before the Advisory Committee …


Discoverymania: Plausibility Pleading As Misprescription, Fabio Arcila Jr. Jan 2015

Discoverymania: Plausibility Pleading As Misprescription, Fabio Arcila Jr.

Scholarly Works

In replacing notice pleading with plausibility pleading, the Supreme Court chose to use a pleading solution to address a perceived discovery problem. This dissonance calls into question both the wisdom and legitimacy of the Court’s choice because plausibility pleading is too blunt an instrument to serve the Court’s goals: it is destabilizing because it ignores the interrelationship between discovery and other Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; it is unfairly overinclusive because it impacts all plaintiffs in all federal cases rather than only those in the minority of cases in which discovery is likely to be problematic; and it is unfairly …