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1. The issue was whether a pedestrian walking on a path next to railroad
tracks was to be considered a trespasser for reasons of liability if an
accident occurred throught the negligence of the train operation.
2. The sovereigns involved are Pennsylvania and New York.
3. Forum-sovereign law is pertinent because all the events occurred in PA, and
the suit is brought in New York because Erie is a corporation there.
4. The case could be considered to be a false conflict because, although
brought in NY, all events occurred in PA and PA law should apply. Both
parties thought PA law should apply, but disagreed what that law was.
5. The railroad asserted that PA law should apply; that the plaintiff was
considered a `trespasser' by using the pathway along the railroad tracks.
6. The source of that law is the highest court in PA.
7. Brandeis looks a the Federal Judiciary Act, the US Constitution, and
research by Charles Warren on the Federal Judiciary Acrt He finds that
nothing was said about applying only written, positive law as the law of the
states where there are no federal laws controlling
8. Brandeis has the benefit of hindsight in his analysis. Story was
attempting to achieve uniformity of laws. Brandeis, however, was able to see
that the opposite had occurred. There was more demarcation between `general
law' and local law; and problems between citizens and non-citizens.
9. Brandeis looks at the power of federal courts and Congress under the
Constituition in mandating how a state declares law and finds that it is not a
matter of federal concern. Neither can announce substantive rules of common
law applicable in a state and to do so would be an unconstitutional assumption
10. Congress may legislate with respect to commercial law under the commerce
clause - if it affects interstate commerce. It however, cannot with respect
to a single state.
11. It is constitutional because it is a procedural rule, rather than
12. Criminal cases heard in federal courts are always regarding federal laws,
and only hears state cases if there is a constitutional issue. There is no
diversity for criminal cases.
13. The Second Circuit has to decide what the law of PA is. The plaintiff
denies the defendant's version of the law is correct, so the court must
decided what the law is and then apply it.
Wendy M. Steiner