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U.S. Supreme Court

Ragan v. Merchants Transfer & Warehouse Co., 337 U.S. 530 (1949)

Ragan v. Merchants Transfer & Warehouse Co.

No. 522

Argued April 20, 1949

Decided June 20, 1949

337 U.S. 530


Solely on grounds of diversity of citizenship, petitioner sued in the Federal District Court for Kansas to recover damages for injuries sustained in a highway accident which occurred less than two years before his complaint was filed, but the summons was not served until more than two years after the date of the accident. The complaint was filed and the summons issued in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but Kansas has a two-year statute of limitations applicable to such tort claims which the Court of Appeals held is not tolled until service of a summons.

Held: the suit was barred by the state statute of limitations. Pp. 337 U. S. 531-534.

(a) This result necessarily follows from Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U. S. 64, since otherwise the plaintiff's rights under local law would be different in the federal courts from what they would be in the state courts. Pp. 337 U. S. 532-533.

(b) A different result is not required by the fact that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern the manner in which an action is commenced in a federal court. Pp. 337 U. S. 532-533.

(c) Nor is a different result required by the fact that local law brought the cause of action to an end after, rather than before, suit was started in the federal court. Pp. 337 U. S. 533-534.

(d) In accordance with its usual practice of accepting the determination of local law by the Court of Appeals, this Court accepts the holding of the Court of Appeals that a Kansas statute providing that an action is commenced when summons is served on the defendant is an integral part of the Kansas statute of limitations. P. 337 U. S. 534.

170 F.2d 987 affirmed.

Having jurisdiction solely on grounds of diversity of citizenship, a Federal District Court granted petitioner a judgment for damages sustained in a highway accident. The Court of Appeals reversed. 170 F.2d 987. This Court granted certiorari. 336 U.S. 917. Affirmed, p. 337 U. S. 534.

Page 337 U. S. 531

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