Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 17,300+ case briefs...

Bernhardt v. Polygraphic Co. of America, Inc.

United States Supreme Court
350 U.S. 198, 76 S.Ct. 273, 100 L.Ed. 199 (1956)


Bernhardt (plaintiff) was employed by the Polygraphic Company of America, Inc. (company) (defendant). Bernhardt's employment contract contained an arbitration clause stipulating that the parties would submit any contract dispute for binding arbitration in accordance with New York law. A contract dispute arose, and Bernhardt sued the company. The United States District Court for the District of Vermont exercised diversity jurisdiction over the case pursuant to Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938), because Bernhardt was a Vermont resident and the company was a New York corporation. Erie held that, in diversity cases, procedural matters are governed by federal law while substantive matters are governed by state law. The company moved to stay the case pending the outcome of arbitration. The district court ruled that the arbitration clause affected Bernhardt's substantive rights. The court applied Vermont’s law, under which arbitration clauses were unenforceable, and denied the company's motion. The company appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which reversed the district court. The appellate court reasoned that whether the case was tried in court or submitted to arbitration was a procedural matter governed by federal law and that federal law required enforcement of the arbitration clause. Bernhardt appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Douglas, J.)

Concurrence (Harlan, J.)

Concurrence (Frankfurter, J.)

Dissent (Burton, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 457,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 457,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 17,300 briefs, keyed to 984 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Questions & Answers

Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial