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MEREDITH V. WINTER HAVEN, 320 U. S. 228 (1943)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Meredith v. Winter Haven, 320 U.S. 228 (1943)

Meredith v. Winter Haven

No. 42

Argued October 22, 1943

Decided November 8, 1943

320 U.S. 228


1. Where a federal court has jurisdiction of a case, though solely by diversity of citizenship, the difficulties of ascertaining what the state courts may thereafter determine the state law to be do not, in themselves, afford a sufficient ground for declining to exercise the jurisdiction. P. 320 U. S. 234.

So held in respect of a suit instituted in a federal district court in Florida, the decision of which was concerned solely with the extent of the liability of a Florida municipality upon its refunding bonds.

2. In the absence of some recognized public policy or defined principle guiding the exercise of the jurisdiction conferred, which would in chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 320 U. S. 229

exceptional cases warrant its nonexercise, it has from the first been deemed to be the duty of the federal courts, if their jurisdiction is properly invoked, to decide questions of state law whenever necessary to the rendition of judgment. When such exceptional circumstances are not present, denial of that opportunity by the federal courts merely because the answers to the questions of state law are difficult or uncertain or have not yet been given by the highest court of the State would thwart the purpose of the jurisdictional act. P. 234.

134 F.2d 202 reversed.

Certiorari, 319 U.S. 736, to review a judgment which, in a suit based on diversity of citizenship, directed dismissal without prejudice to the plaintiff's right to proceed in the state court.

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