Washington Law Review


In In re McLinn, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected this traditional reliance on the district court's determination of state law and held that issues of state law in federal court will be reviewed under a new, de novo standard. The McLinn case reveals a dilemma in the treatment of state law in federal courts. The Erie doctrine requires federal courts to ascertain and apply state law, and gives them a broad responsibility for doing so. At the same time federal courts are unable to accurately predict and apply unresolved issues of state law. This Note discusses the doctrine governing the treatment of state law in federal courts and presents the McLinn case. It then analyzes the Erie doctrine and the problems inherent in its application, and assesses the McLinn court's approach to these problems. Finally, it suggests a way to implement the McLinn decision while achieving the goal of accurate application of state law in federal court.

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