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Civil Procedure Rules of Law

The following contains the Rules of Law you'll need for the Civil Procedure Practice Exam. These rules are presented in outline form only for purposes of the practice exam.

NOTE: Some rules are stated with elements that must be proven. Other rules are just stated without being broken into elements. In the latter case, you should figure out what the elements of the crime are yourself and incorporate that into your answer.

In personam jurisdiction
Subject matter jurisdiction


In personam jurisdiction

Personal, or in personam, jurisdiction is imposed over a defendant when both statutory and constitutional issues are met.

Statutory issues
The forum state must have granted power to the courts to exercise jurisdiction over the defendant. This can be done in one of four ways:

  1. the defendant is present in the forum when served.

  2. the defendant is domiciled in the forum

  3. the defendant consents to jurisdiction or

  4. the state's long arm statute provides for jurisdiction.

Constitutional Issues
In order for the court to exercise personal jurisdiction, the Due Process clause of the US Constitution requires that the defendant has maintained minimum contact with the forum state:

Minimum Contacts Test (International Shoe, Burger King)
Does the defendant have such minimum contacts with the forum state so that the exercise of jurisdiction does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice?

Minimum Contacts is demonstrated by:

  1. Purposeful availment, such that the defendant's voluntary act to reach out into the forum state was for some benefit to himself. Examples include putting goods into the stream of commerce, using the forum state's highways or taking advantage of the state's corporate law.

  2. Foreseeability. The Defendant knew or should have known that it could get sued in the forum state.

Fair Play and Substantial Justice is a balance of the following factors:

  1. The closeness of the relationship between the claim and the contact.

  2. Whether it is convenient to call the defendant into the forum state.

  3. The state's interest in protecting its citizens.


Subject matter jurisdiction

A defendant can be drawn into Federal court only if the subject matter of the claim is within its jurisdiction. There are two primary types of claims -- Federal Question and Diversity of Citizenship.

Federal Question
The complaint must find its basis in some federal law, such as the US Constitution, US Federal Law or Case Law. Citizenship is not relevant and parties can be from the same state.

Diversity of Citizenship
Diversity of citizenship cases require that the plaintiff and defendant be citizens of different states and that the amount in controversy be over $75,000.

Citizens of Different States
The parties must be of diverse citizen, such no single defendant can be a citizen of the same state as any plaintiff.

Citizenship
People: Whether a person is a citizen of a particular state is determined by domicile. Domicile is defined as presence in the state with the intent to remain indefinitely.

Corporations: Whether a corporation is a citizen of a particular state is determined by 1) state of incorporation and 2) the state where the corporation has its principal place of business.

Amount in Controversy
The claim for damages must be over $75,000 and must be made in good faith.

To reach the $75,000 limit, a plaintiff can

  1. aggregate claims that arise from the same case or controversy

  2. aggregate claims from different controversy if it's there's only one defendant and one plaintiff


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