Logourl black

Ferens v. John Deere Co.

United States Supreme Court
494 U.S. 516 (1990)


Albert Ferens (plaintiff) lost his right hand after it became caught in a combine harvester manufactured by John Deere Co. (Deere) (defendant), a Delaware corporation. The accident occurred in Pennsylvania. After Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations expired, Ferens and his wife (plaintiff), both Pennsylvania residents, sued for warranty and contract claims in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania under diversity jurisdiction. Pennsylvania's statutes of limitations had not run for those claims. Ferens then sued for negligence and products liability in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The Mississippi borrowing statue, as interpreted by the Mississippi Supreme Court, permitted the Ferenses to apply Pennsylvania negligence and products liability law but use the Mississippi statute of limitations, which had not yet run. Under that court's interpretation, the borrowing statute did not apply Pennsylvania's statute of limitations, because Deere was a Mississippi resident when the cause of action arose. Shortly after the Mississippi suit was filed, the Ferenses moved to transfer the case to the Western District of Pennsylvania under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The Mississippi court, finding that the Pennsylvania court would be more convenient for the parties, granted the transfer. Upon transfer, the case was consolidated with Ferenses’ other case before the Western District of Pennsylvania. The court then applied the Pennsylvania statute of limitations and dismissed the Ferenses’ tort actions. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed on the ground that applying Mississippi's statute of limitations violated due process, and the United States Supreme Court reversed and remanded. The court of appeals then affirmed on the ground that the transferor court's choice-of-law rules are inapplicable where the plaintiff moves for the transfer. The Ferenses petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari, which was granted.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.


The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • 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.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Dissent (Scalia, J.)

The dissent section is for members only and includes a summary of the dissenting judge or justice’s opinion. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Here's why 90,000 law students rely on our case briefs:

  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners not other law students.
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet.
  • 12,195 briefs - keyed to 164 casebooks.
  • Uniform format for every case brief.
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language.
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions.
  • Ability to tag case briefs in an outlining tool.
  • Top-notch customer support.
Start Your Free Trial Now