Matthew R. Lyon

Document Type




Part I of this Article briefly summarizes the relevant history of the Erie doctrine, including its origins in both the Rules of Decision Act and the Rules Enabling Act, and concludes with a discussion of Shady Grove, the latest landmark in the Supreme Court's Erie jurisprudence. Part II summarizes the summary judgment standards in federal and state courts, highlighting how certain state courts have distinguished their summary judgment rules from the interpretation of the federal rule set forth in Celotex. Part III argues that, based upon the controlling precedent from Justice Stevens's concurring opinion in Shady Grove, the federal court should apply the state standard. A district court could reach this outcome through either a Rules Enabling Act analysis or, less likely, a Rules of Decision Act analysis. In fact, the results of several lower court decisions applying Shady Grove suggest that the case has revived the possibility that a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure that otherwise controls the issue in dispute might be invalidated under the Rules Enabling Act. A lasting-and perhaps unintended-legacy of the fractured Shady Grove case, therefore, may be that it has opened the door to the increased application of state rules-and, potentially, state summary judgment standards-by federal courts sitting in diversity. The Court's steady shift towards the procedural disposition of suits in the federal courts10 and the concomitant pushback in the state courts" make this an area ripe for further development of the Court's Erie jurisprudence.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.