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Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins - NY federal court would do...

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Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins 304 US 64 (1938) Fact: Operative Facts: Tompkins was walking along a beaten path alongside a railroad track. He was walking as a licensee. When a fright train passed by, he was struck by a door projecting from one of the moving cars. He filed suit in the federal court under diversity of citizenship. (He’s from Pennsylvania, train company is from NY). Train co. wanted to use Pennsylvania law, which states that people who are walking in a longitudinal pathway with the railroad, they are deemed trespassers, and train co. can’t be held liable for injuries to trespassers for it’s negligence (unless wanton or willful). Tompkins says there is no such law, and it should be determined under federal law. Issue: Whether it was constitutional to apply a “general law” in federal courts. Rule: Rational: First thing to look at, is to look at the New York’s choice of law, law. Which was, “The new York state court would have been concerned with the Pennsalviana court of law, and so the
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Unformatted text preview: NY federal court would do the same.” The trial court stated, that they only have to follow the PA’s state law, and constitution, and they don’t have to follow the PA’s courts holdings. The USSC stated: 1) The federal courts do not have to apply the “general law,” but … okay sooo confused 2) There is defects in the doctrine 3) No such thing as a federal general common law. 4) The courts just messed up. Holding: Reversed, holding the federal court cannot use the federal general common law to make a holding on the case. Synthesis: Dramatic in 2 respects. 1) That the law in “swift v. Taylor” meant to include the state’s court decisions. 2) Federal court does not have the power to create federal general common law (period!). Dissent/Concurrences: Justice Reed concurs: Court went a little too far by saying it was unconstitutional. They could have just use erroneous....
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