Erie Essay Question from the 2008 CivPro Exam
Erie Essay Question from the 2000 CivPro Exam

Multiple Choice for the 2006 CivPro Exam

4.            P sues D under federal antitrust law in the Federal District Court for the District of Connecticut. D defaults and P gets a judgment of $80,000. P then sues D in state court in Connecticut for violations of Connecticut state antitrust law. P’s state court suit concerns the same events as the earlier federal suit. D removes P’s action to federal court in Connecticut. The grounds for removal, D argues, is that the claim preclusive effect of the earlier federal judgment is a question of federal law. Which of the following is most accurate?

a.     The suit will be remanded. Under Semtek International Inc. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., the preclusive effect of the earlier federal judgment is governed by Connecticut state law, not federal law. However, P is probably not claim precluded under Connecticut state law, because D defaulted in the first judgment.

b.     The suit will be remanded. Under Semtek International Inc. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., the preclusive effect of the earlier federal judgment is governed by Connecticut state law, not federal law. However, P is probably not claim precluded under Connecticut law, because there was no federal subject matter jurisdiction for P’s state law antitrust action in the first federal action.

c.     Although the preclusive effect of the earlier federal judgment is governed by federal, not Connecticut, law, the suit will be remanded. Furthermore, according to federal claim preclusion law, P is claim precluded.

d.     Although the preclusive effect of the earlier federal judgment is governed by federal, not Connecticut, law, the suit will be remanded. However, P is not claim precluded under federal law, because D defaulted in the first judgment.

e.    Although the preclusive effect of the earlier federal judgment is governed by federal, not Connecticut, law, the suit will be remanded. However, P is not claim precluded under federal law, because there was no federal subject matter jurisdiction for P’s state law antitrust actions in the first federal action.

ANSWER

 

a.     The suit will be remanded. Under Semtek International Inc. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., the preclusive effect of the earlier federal judgment is governed by Connecticut state law, not federal law. However, P is probably not claim precluded under Connecticut state law, because D defaulted in the first judgment.

Wrong. The suit will indeed be remanded, but not for the reason stated here. First of all, the earlier federal judgment was for a federal question suit, not a diversity suit, so Erie and Semtek are irrelevant. Federal law on the preclusive effect of the judgment would clearly apply. Second, the question of whether federal or state preclusion law applies is really irrelevant anyway, since even though federal law applies, the case still must be remanded. Federal defenses are not grounds for removal and claim preclusion is an affirmative defense.

This is also wrong because P is claim precluded. Default judgments in fact do have claim preclusive effect under the federal law of claim preclusion (and probably under Connecticut claim preclusion law too, although that law – as we have seen – is irrelevant).

b.     The suit will be remanded. Under Semtek International Inc. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., the preclusive effect of the earlier federal judgment is governed by Connecticut state law, not federal law. However, P is probably not claim precluded under Connecticut law, because there was no federal subject matter jurisdiction for P’s state law antitrust action in the first federal action.

Wrong. The suit will indeed be remanded, but not for the reason stated here. See answer a above. This is also wrong because there was federal subject matter jurisdiction for the state antitrust actions. They would have had supplemental jurisdiction in the first suit. So there is no reason to think that P is not claim precluded.

c.     Although the preclusive effect of the earlier federal judgment is governed by federal, not Connecticut, law, the suit will be remanded. Furthermore, according to federal claim preclusion law, P is claim precluded.

Correct. First of all, this is right in saying that federal claim preclusion law will apply. See answer a above. Second, it is right that the case should still be remanded. See answer a above. And finally, it is right that P should be claim precluded, since the state antitrust actions concerned the same transaction as the earlier federal antirust actions.

d.     Although the preclusive effect of the earlier federal judgment is governed by federal, not Connecticut, law, the suit will be remanded. However, P is not claim precluded under federal law, because D defaulted in the first judgment.

Wrong. First of all, this is right in saying that federal claim preclusion law will apply. See answer a above. Second, it is right that the case should still be remanded. See answer a above. But it is wrong in saying that P is not claim precluded. Default judgments have claim preclusive effect. (They do not, however, have issue preclusive effect.)

e.    Although the preclusive effect of the earlier federal judgment is governed by federal, not Connecticut, law, the suit will be remanded. However, P is not claim precluded under federal law, because there was no federal subject matter jurisdiction for P’s state law antitrust actions in the first federal action.

Wrong. First of all, this is right in saying that federal claim preclusion law will apply. See answer a above. Second, it is right that the case should still be remanded. See answer a above. But it is wrong in saying that P is not claim precluded. There would have been supplemental jurisdiction for the state antitrust actions in the earlier federal suit.

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