How to Fill a Procedural Loophole: Re-Evaluating the Ragan and Walker Analysis in Light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m)
Legislatures implement statutes of limitations to
protect defendants from being brought into lawsuits for
incidents long past. However, a proceduralloophole in
the Georgiafederal court system could permit plaintiffs
to disregardstatutes of limitations and wait as long as
they please to notify a defendant of a pending claim.
The loophole exists because federal courts in Georgia
must defer to state law governing the tolling of statutes
of limitations, and that state law is procedurally
incompatible with the federal court's system. In order
to fill the procedural loophole, this Note argues that the
Eleventh Circuit should apply the federal rule-rather
than Georgia's state law-governing the amount of
time a plaintiff can wait before perfecting service of
process upon a defendant. Specifically, the court
should re-evaluate its prior decision to apply the
state-rather than federal-timely service rule in
Cambridge Mutual Fire Insurance Company v.
Claxton in light of a subsequently-enactedFederal Rule
of Civil Procedure:Rule 4(m). Rule 4(m) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure directly collides with Georgia's
timely service law and, therefore, under the Erie
Railroad Company v. Tompkins doctrine, courts should
defer to the federal rather than state rule. Moreover, if
federal courts continue to apply Georgia's timely service
law, the procedural loophole will persist, permitting
plaintiffs to disregard statutes of limitations and
incentivizing parties to bring claims in federal court.
This violates the twin aims of Erie. Finally, Georgia's
timely service law is not bound-up in state substantive
rights, and its application would interfere with an
essential function of the federal system. Therefore, the
federal rule-rather than the Georgia rule-should
Boggs, Holly M.
"How to Fill a Procedural Loophole: Re-Evaluating the Ragan and Walker Analysis in Light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m),"
Georgia Law Review: Vol. 52:
2, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/glr/vol52/iss2/5