This article addresses how a federal court sitting in diversity jurisdiction should approach remedies issues, particularly where the law-equity divide lingers. Treatment of remedies raises tricky problems for federal judges regarding what law to apply. It matters because of separation-of-powers, federalism, jury trial implications, forum shopping, and fairness to litigants. Because, after all, the choice of federal versus state forum should not dictate the outcome. Further, notwithstanding calls to eliminate vestiges of equity’s unique characteristics and requirements, the gravitational pull of equity remains. There is value in continuing to honor equitable principles. And there is value in federal judges cultivating the contours of equity through development of equitable remedies doctrines, assuming federal judges do so within the substantive bounds of the underlying state law. This delicate balance may well prove difficult to achieve in all instances, but the goal remains worthy. Another rationale supporting this view is greater alignment with federal courts’ treatment of equitable remedies doctrines for cases arising under federal law.
Ultimately, the remedy should honor the underlying substantive state law claim. The remedy should be tied to the right, though a federal court may provide an equitable remedy where a state might not. What if the movant seeks an equitable remedy in federal court that requires discretion and gap-filling? Historical justifications exist for federal court grants a broader, more powerful equitable remedies than states might. This article examines federal court practices in other hybrid scenarios in which gap-filling occurred. For example, Supreme Court cases of original jurisdiction when the case implicates state law. Must the federal judge rely solely on state doctrines, federal standards, or both? This article offers insights into federal court jurisprudence, practices, and ideal paths when crafting equitable versus legal remedies. I propose a novel path for federal courts to maintain historical powers of equity to help shape remedies law but should do so with respect towards state law substantive principles though the federal remedy may be outcome determinative.
Roberts, Caprice L.
"Remedies, Equity & Erie,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 52
, Article 11.
Available at: https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol52/iss2/11