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Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins

Significance, The Court Changes Course, A "radical Change", Impact


Erie Railroad Company



Petitioner's Claim

That state law, rather than federal court decisions, should determine whether the railroad was liable for injuries Tompkins suffered when walking along the railroad's right-of-way.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Theodore Kiendl

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Fred H. Rees

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black, Louis D. Brandeis (writing for the Court), Charles Evans Hughes, Owen Josephus Roberts, Harlan Fiske Stone, Stanley Forman Reed

Justices Dissenting

Pierce Butler, James Clark McReynolds (Benjamin N. Cardozo did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

25 April 1938


The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the petitioner's claim and reversed the circuit court of appeal's validation of the trial jury's award of damages.

Related Cases

  • Swift v. Tyson, 41 U.S. 1 (1842).
  • Southern Pacific Co. v Jensen, 244 U.S. 205 (1917).
  • Ragan v. Merchants Transfer & Warehouse Co., 337 U.S. 530 (1949).
  • Hanna v. Plumer, 380 U.S. 460 (1965).

Further Readings

  • Warren, Charles. "New Light on the History of the Federal Judiciary Act of 1789," Harvard Law Review, Vol. 37, no. 49, 1923.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940