In its famous 1938 Erie decision, the US Supreme Court deemed itself without power to make general common law. Yet while the rule of Erie remains, the Court has strayed from its spirit. Using two lines of cases as representative of a larger trend – one involving First Amendment limits on claims for defamation, invasion of privacy, and infliction of emotional distress, the other concerning the preemption of state products liability law – we explain how the Court has increasingly empowered federal courts to serve as fora in which repeat-player defendants are offered a ‘second bite at the apple.’ This is precisely the role for federal courts that Erie rejected.
Goldberg, John CP and Zipursky, Benjamin C, The Supreme Court’s Stealth Return to the Common Law of Torts (September 26, 2016). Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No 2843601.