Overruling Erie: Nationwide Class Actions and National Common Law
8 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2008
In this essay, part of a symposium on the Class Action Fairness Act, I argue that CAFA should be read as having overruled Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins as applied to the nationwide class actions that fall within CAFA's jurisdictional grant. In the principal paper on which this essay comments, Linda Silberman suggests that Congress should overrule Klaxon v. Stentor Electric Mfg. Co. That suggestion, I propose, amounts to swimming halfway across a river. One of Congress's stated goals in enacting CAFA was to restore the intent of the founding generation. Examining the history and purposes of both diversity jurisdiction and the Rules of Decision Act demonstrates that unless CAFA is read to overrule Erie, it has achieved only half its goal.
Keywords: Erie, class actions, choice of law, CAFA
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