Walker v. Armco Steel Corp.
SCOTUS - 1980
- P(OK) was injured while hammering a nail that D(foreign corporation) manufactured.
- P brought suit under diversity in federal court of WDOK. Complaint was filed on August 19, 1977. Service was not processed on D until December 1, 1977.
- D filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the action was barred by OK statute of limitations (action is not commenced until service on D).
- P argued that FRCP 3 governs the time that a action is commenced and that the statute of limitations is tolled at the time of complaint.
- District Court dismissed P's complaint, barred by OK statute of limitations.
- 10th Cir COA affirmed, dismissed P's complaint, barred by OK statute of limitations.
- SCOTUS affirmed, dismissed P's complaint, barred by OK statute of limitations.
- In a diversity action in federal court, should state law or Rule 3 of FRCP be followed in determining when an action is commenced for the purpose of tolling the state statute of limitations?
- In a diversity action in federal court, state law should be followed in determining when an action is commenced for the purpose of tolling the state statute of limitations.
- In order for a Federal Rule to control, it must be broad enough ("direct collision") to cover the issue at hand.
- Where the Federal Rule is clearly applicable, as in Hanna, the test is whether the rule is within the scope of the REA and constitutional.
- The Court is wary of overruling earlier decisions.
- This case is indistinguishable from Ragan and does not follow the Hanna analysis.
- Application of Hanna is premised on the fact that there is a direct collision between the Federal Rule and state law.
- The Federal Rule must be broad enough to cover the issue in question.
- When the Federal Rule is not broad enough, Erie controls and requires the enforcement of state law.
- There is no indication that Rule 3 was intended to toll a state statute of limitations.
- There is no reason why, in the absence of a controlling federal rule, an action based on state law which concededly would be barred in state courts by the state statute of limitations should proceed through litigation to judgment in federal court solely because of the fortuity that there is diversity of citizenship between the litigants.