Study questions on Shady Grove

The major issue in this case is the nature of the conflict between state law and federal law. Cases like Walker and Shady Grove arise when state law arguably conflicts with an REA rule such as a rule of the FRCP.

Whether a conflict actually exists between state law and an FRCP rule depends on how broadly the Court reads the rule of the FRCP. For example, in Walker, the Court read FRCP 3 narrowly in order to avoid a direct conflict between FRCP 3 and state law; instead, the Court held that the conflict was between a federal judicial practice (i.e., judge-made procedure) and state law, thus triggering RDA/Hanna I analysis.

To understand this case, make sure you’ve read the previous assignments, including the study questions on Erie and Hanna. Also, work with the handout on Erie/REA analysis.

This case should remind you of the vote count in Asahi. Be sure to make a score card indicating how the Justices voted.

  1. Why did the New York Legislature pass Section 901(b)? Would it broaden the availability of class actions or narrow it?
  2. What is the potentially conflicting federal law?
  3. What guidance do the opinions provide on how broadly to read a rule of the FRCP?
  4. What kind of conflict exists according to Justices Scalia, Stevens, and Ginsburg? A conflict between an FRCP and state law (requiring REA analysis), or between federal judicial practice and state law (requiring RDA/Hanna I analysis)?
  5. Does a majority agree on the outcome? If so, which Justices create a majority?
  6. Does a majority agree on what test should be used (i.e., REA or RDA/Hanna I)? If so, which Justices create a majority?
  7. Does a majority agree how to perform REA analysis? Look at the text of 28 U.S.C. 2072(a) and (b). Which Justice do you think proposes the better way of performing REA analysis?
  8. Who is in dissent? How would that Justice resolve the case?
  9. Note that in this case, the REA and RDA/Hanna I tests would lead to different outcomes. Is one of these tests more tilted towards using federal law? Is this a good idea?

Added March 20, 2015