Friday, March 24, 2017

Efficiency and the Well-Pleaded Complaint Rule

Following class today, Josh offered an important insight on Mottley and the Well-Pleaded Complaint Rule: It is really inefficient. SCOTUS had the case the first time, sent the Mottleys to go all the way through the state system, only to come back several years later for SCOTUS to reach the merits of the defense. Does that make sense from an efficiency standpoint?

A couple of responses, just on inefficiency:

1) Mottley itself was inefficient, but not the W/P/C in all cases. Once Mottley established the W/P/C, that inefficiency disappears, because the parties to the next Mottley-type case know they have to file in state court rather than federal court. Otherwise, the only inefficiency is adding an additional layer before parties are able to get into a federal forum.

2) Efficiency cuts in both directions--the W/P/C also promotes efficiency, by allowing the court to decide jurisdiction early and quickly, based only on the complaint.

3) Efficiency is not the only value. The docket-control benefits can reasonably prevail over the efficiency benefits. This is a policy debate, to which there is not necessarily a correct answer.

Worth thinking about.