Federal Civil Procedure–Right to Trial by Jury–State Law Controlling in Characterization of Issues as Legal or Equitable
An action for declaratory relief was brought in a federal district court to determine the validity of a contingent fee contract and the reasonableness of attorney’s fees in a will contest case. Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment was sustained. On appeal, the court of appeals reversed and remanded with instructions to grant defendant’s motion for jury trial, in accordance with Oklahoma practice, on the question whether the contingent fee contract was fair and free from fraud. The Supreme Court granted certiorari, vacated the judgment, and remanded the case for reconsideration in the light of a recent state decision. On reconsideration by the court of appeals of its order granting defendant’s motion for jury trial, held, reversed and remanded. Since cancellation of the contingent fee contract, the basic relief being sought, is an equitable action under present Oklahoma law, there is no right of trial by jury. Simler v. Conner, 295 F.2d 534 10th Cir. 1961).