An Intent-Based Approach to the Acceptance of Benefits Doctrine in the Federal Courts

This Note discusses the question of when federal courts should allow a party who accepts payment of a judgment subsequently to appeal the deficiency of the award. Part I examines the discrepancies currently existing in the acceptance of benefits doctrine as applied by the federal courts. Part II analogizes this issue to the law of implied-in-fact contracts and argues that accepting the benefits of a judgment should not prevent an appeal unless circumstances clearly indicate a mutual intent to settle all claims and thereby terminate litigation. Part III contends that, under the doctrine expressed in Erie Railroad v. Tompkins, federal courts should apply this proposed rule in diversity actions. This Note concludes that federal courts should apply a uniform, intent-based rule both in cases arising under federal law and in diversity actions.