Washington Law Review


United States v. State of Arizona, 214 F.2d 389 (9th Cir. 1954), highlights the recurring problem of contribution between the United States and another joint tortfeasor. In the original case here involved, P sued the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injury resulting from an exploding shell picked up on a supposedly dedudded artillery range which had been deeded by the United States to the State of Arizona. The United States brought a third-party complaint against the State of Arizona as a joint tortfeasor, and it is the action on this third-party complaint which is involved in the instant case. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that Arizona law does not permit contribution from another tortfeasor, and, therefore, affirmed the dismissal of the third-party complaint. The court asserted that the basis of this holding was the doctrine of Erie Railroad v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 63 (1937), requiring the application of state substantive law to federal court actions.

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