Vermont Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

Title: Vermont Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

I. Personal Jurisdiction

Concept: Personal Jurisdiction refers to the power that a court has over the parties involved in a case. It determines whether a court has the right to make a binding decision over a defendant.

– International Shoe Co. v. Washington (1945): This case established the minimum contacts standard for personal jurisdiction, where the court held that a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant if they have sufficient contact with the state where the court is located.

Law: Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 4.1 grants personal jurisdiction over a defendant who is domiciled in Vermont, found within Vermont, or maintains systematic and continuous business or work contacts within Vermont.

II. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Concept: Subject Matter Jurisdiction refers to the authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases involving specific subject matter.

– Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins (1938): The court held that federal courts sitting in diversity apply state substantive law and federal procedural law, which is often referred to as the “Erie Doctrine”.

Law: 28 U.S.C. § 1332 provides that federal district courts have diversity jurisdiction over civil cases where the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and the parties are citizens of different states.

III. Venue

Concept: Venue refers to the specific geographical location where a court with jurisdiction may hear a case.

– Neirbo Co. v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. (1939): The court held that consent to jurisdiction and venue can be established by contract.

Law: Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 4.2 (a) (2) provides the venue in civil actions lies in the county where any defendant resides when the action is commenced or in the county where the cause of action arose.

IV. Pleadings and Motions

Concept: Pleadings and motions are formal documents that parties file with the court to state their positions.

– Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly (2007): The court held that a complaint requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.

Law: Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 8 (a) requires a claim for relief to contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.

V. Pre-trial Procedures

Concept: Pre-trial procedures include discovery, motions in limine, and settlement conferences that manage the case before trial.

– Hickman v. Taylor (1947): A case that defined the rules of attorney work-product privilege during discovery.

Law: Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b) outlines the scope and limits of discovery.

VI. Trial Procedures

Concept: Trial procedures consist of jury selection, opening statements, presentation of evidence, closing arguments, jury instructions, and verdict.

– Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (1993): The court held that the Federal Rules of Evidence superseded Frye as the standard for admissibility of expert testimony.

Law: Vermont Rule of Evidence 702 governs the admissibility of expert witness testimony.

VII. Post-trial Procedures

Concept: Post-trial procedures include motions for a new trial, appeals, and enforcement of judgment.

– Cooper Industries, Inc. v. Aviall Services, Inc. (2004): The court held that a party cannot appeal a decision until there has been a final judgment on the merits.

Law: Vermont Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a) sets the time for filing an appeal.

VIII. Class Actions

Concept: Class action suits allow a large number of people with a common interest in a matter to sue or be sued as a group.

– Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes (2011): The court made it tougher to certify class action suits by increasing the commonality requirement.

Law: Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 23 governs class action suits.

Remember, understanding civil procedure involves more than just memorizing rules and case law. You must be able to apply these concepts to new situations.

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