Thursday, October 02, 2014

Lightfoot v. Cendant Mortgage Corp. (9th Cir. - Oct. 2, 2014)

Here's an issue -- and an opinion -- that's right out of a first-year civil procedure class.  Or maybe an upper-year advanced civil procedure class.  Does Fannie Mae's "sue and be sued" clause grant federal subject matter jurisdiction?

Judge Fletcher (joined by Judge Trott) is right.  It does.  Judge Stein, sitting by designation from the SDNY, does a mighty job in dissent.  But Judge Fletcher has substantially better of the argument.

In a parallel universe in which current precedent didn't exist, Judge Stein might be right.  But given what the Supreme Court has said from Osborn -- 190 years ago -- to Red Cross (22 years ago), Judge Fletcher's correct.  As is his evaluation of the relevant statute and legislative history.

Actual attorneys will care only about the result:  Fannie Mae can sue and be sued in federal court, and (more importantly) can remove even state law cases there.  But for civil procedure professors, the opinion and dissent also consist a dreamy, 36-page discourse about sue-and-be sued clauses.

What joy.