Search Site
Menu
In Personal Injury the Fed Looks to the State

In a recent blog, I wrote of the inability to use the federal courts to gain jurisdiction over a defendant who does not have sufficient minimum contacts with the forum state. That blog was in response to the misperception of many that all a litigant needs to do is to sue in federal court to gain jurisdiction over any defendant. Not true. Because the federal court applies the same analysis on jurisdiction that the state in which it sits would apply, there is no advantage in that instance to bringing an action in a federal court. Consequently, if you didn’t have jurisdiction over a particular defendant in state court in Massachusetts, you would not have jurisdiction over that same defendant in federal court in Massachusetts.

In a similar vein, if you are able to bring an action in federal court for personal injury – because of diversity of citizenship between the parties – and you have jurisdiction over the defendant, would the federal court apply the same principles of tort law that the state in which it sits applies?  The answer is yes. The United States District Court in Massachusetts for example will look to the tort cases of the Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court to determine the relevant law. There is no benefit to forum shopping as there is no federal common law. In the seminal case of Erie v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938), the Supreme Court ruled that in cases of diversity jurisdiction, the courts had to use the same laws as the states in which they were situated. This has allowed for a uniform application of laws.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Feinberg & Alban, P.C. fervently protects your rights
  • The Boston firm of Feinberg & Alban, P.C. specializes its practice in the area of personal injury.

    The attorneys serve the entire state of Massachusetts in addition to affiliating with lawyers in other states to handle cases outside of Massachusetts.

  • $7.7 Million Award for Feinberg & Alban Client in Personal Injury Trial

    Boston Attorneys Win Highest Injury Verdict in Massachusetts in 2011 & 2012.

Client Reviews
  • google
    5.0/5.0

    Marsha Alban is a great attorney and very easy to work with!

    Read more

    Lana Bautin

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    I have had the pleasure of working with Attorney Santora several times, and she has never let me down. She is professional, compassionate, knowledgeable, and always keeps my best interest at the forefront. I have recommended her to friends without he...

    Read more

    Brian Orsatti

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    I highly recommend Marsha! From start to finish was just as easy as a law process can be. No words to explain how wonderful all of them are. Highly proportional and caring. All questions answered , all problems resolved. Thank you ! Look no more. Thi...

    Read more

    Katerina Zhantuan

  • lawyers
    5.0/5.0

    Marsha and Paula were nice to work with. Both of these women were top notched. I enjoyed being updated on my case without the usual hassles of emailing and continuously leaving voice mails. Working with these two women were stress free and that was v...

    Read more

    Client

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    Attorney Santora was very attentive to the details of my case. She was prompt in returning either phone calls or emails. Her expertise aided me in making a decision. It was a pleasure to have her represent me.

    Read more

    Karen Trahan

See all reviews
Awards & Affiliations
Contact us

Quick Contact Form