Erie Doctrine: Where State Supreme Court Has Not Spoken, Federal Courts Are Bound by Decisions of State Intermediate Appellate Courts Absent Persuasive Evidence That Supreme Court Would Disagree

Burgess v. Religious Tech. Ctr., Inc., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 1162 (11th Cir. Jan. 26, 2015):

  To determine whether the district court had personal jurisdiction over RTC, we consider two issues: (1) whether personal jurisdiction exists under the Georgia Long-Arm [*4]  Statute, and (2) if so, whether the exercise of the court's jurisdiction would violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. Louis Vuitton Malletier, 736 F.3d at 1350. "When a federal court uses a state long-arm statute, because the extent of the statute is governed by state law, the federal court is required to construe it as would the state's supreme court." Lockard v. Equifax, Inc., 163 F.3d 1259, 1265 (11th Cir. 1998). Therefore, we will interpret and apply Georgia's long-arm statute in the same way as would the Georgia Supreme Court. Where the Georgia Supreme Court has not ruled on an issue of state law, we "are bound by decisions of a state's intermediate appellate courts unless there is persuasive evidence that the highest state court would rule otherwise." Pendergast v. Sprint Nextel Corp., 592 F.3d 1119, 1133 (11th Cir. 2010) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

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