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Burlington Northern Railroad Co. v. Woods

United States Supreme Court
480 U.S. 1 (1987)


Facts

Woods (plaintiffs) filed a tort action against the Burlington Northern Railroad Co. (Burlington) (defendant) for personal injuries. The suit was removed to an Alabama federal district court on the basis of diversity of citizenship. The jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded them $300,000 in damages. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed and granted the plaintiffs’ petition to impose a 10 percent affirmance penalty under an Alabama affirmance statute that was designed to penalize frivolous appeals. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the statute in light of Rule 38 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure which provided that if a court of appeals determined that an appeal was frivolous, it could “award just damages and single or double costs to the appellee.”

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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