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Choice of Law in Federal Courts: From Erie and Klaxon to CAFA and Shady Grove


Kermit Roosevelt III


University of Pennsylvania Law School

Winter 2012

Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 106, Pg. 1, 2012
University of Pennsylvania Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-28

Abstract:     
The article offers a new perspective on choice of law in federal courts. I have argued in a series of articles that ordinary choice of law problems are best understood through application of a particular conceptual framework, which I call the two-step model. Rather than thinking of choice of law as some sort of meta-procedure, this model takes it to address two substantive questions: what are the scope of the competing states’ laws, and which should be given priority if they conflict?

My previous articles have explored the utility of this framework for tackling some perennial problems in choice of law. This one moves to a different context: choice of law in federal courts under the Erie doctrine. It argues that Erie is best understood as a straightforward application of this two-step model and that the model consequently offers a useful guide for Erie analysis. It shows how thinking about the Erie question in this way offers novel and satisfying solutions to a number of puzzles that have troubled courts and commentators in the wake of Erie. These puzzles include the effect that federal courts must give to state choice of law rules (the Klaxon issue), how Klaxon should interact with the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, and the Court’s most recent venture into the Erie arena, Shady Grove v. Allstate. These issues have received substantial attention in the scholarly literature, but never from the two-step perspective.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 54

Keywords: conflict of laws, Choice of Law in Federal Courts, scope of the competing states’ laws, priority of laws when they conflict

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Date posted: August 25, 2010 ; Last revised: February 25, 2013

Suggested Citation

Roosevelt, Kermit, Choice of Law in Federal Courts: From Erie and Klaxon to CAFA and Shady Grove (Winter 2012). Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 106, Pg. 1, 2012; University of Pennsylvania Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-28. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1665092 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1665092

Contact Information

Kermit Roosevelt III (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215.746.8775 (Phone)
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