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A Little Bit of Laches Goes a Long Way: Notes on Petrella v. Metro,Goldwyn,Mayer, Inc.
Samuel L. Bray* I. II. III. VI. V. INTRODUCTION ...................................................................... 1! LACHES IS AND SHOULD BE AN EQUITABLE DEFENSE ............ 2! LACHES IN AN AGE OF STATUTES OF LIMITATION ................... 8! A MIDDLE COURSE IN PETRELLA ......................................... 17! CONCLUSION ....................................................................... 18! I. INTRODUCTION The famous Martin Scorsese movie Raging Bull and an ancient doctrine of equity will make a joint appearance later this month at the U.S. Supreme Court. On January 21, 2014, the Court will hear arguments in Petrella v. Metro:Goldwyn:Mayer, Inc.1 The case involves copyright infringement claims about the movie, and about the extent to which those claims are barred by the doctrine of laches. Laches is a defense that was developed by courts of equity, and it is typically raised in cases where a plaintiff has delayed her suit without good reason. Petrella raises two big questions about how laches fits into contemporary American law. One is whether it applies to all claims or only to equitable ones.2 The other is how it is affected by a federal statute of limitations. Is laches displaced, on the theory that Congress has spoken by enacting the statute of limitations, so that it would violate the separation of powers for a court to substitute its own equitable doctrines? Or does laches remain and coexist with the statute of limitations on the theory that Congress legislates against the background of traditional equitable principles?
* Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Law. Thanks for comments are due to William Baude, Nathan Chapman, Patrick Goodman, Doug Laycock, Michael McConnell, Seth Barrett Tillman, and David Waddilove. 1. Petrella v. Metro[Goldwyn[Mayer, Inc., No. 12[1315 (October 2013 Term). 2.

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The parties in Petrella offer diametrically opposite answers to these questions. The petitioner, who lost below because the lower courts invoked laches, argues that laches is entirely precluded because Congress enacted a statute of limitations.3 On the other hand, the respondents are defending the Ninth Circuit s position that in copyright cases the defense of laches applies no matter whether the remedy sought is legal or equitable.4 Between these extremes of laches for no remedies and laches for all remedies lies a better course.5 This essay examines the doctrine, history, and theory of laches. It reaches two conclusions. First, laches is and should remain an equitable defense. Second, laches is available unless Congress makes a clear statement abrogating it, and the mere enactment of a statute of limitations is not a clear statement of abrogation. Given these conclusions, the Court should take a middle course in Petrella: retain the defense of laches but apply it only to claims for equitable remedies. II. LACHES IS AND SHOULD BE AN EQUITABLE DEFENSE Laches is a defense that can be invoked when the plaintiff has delayed in bringing a suit. But laches is not concerned merely with the fact of delay. It matters why the plaintiff delayed bringing the claim and what effect that delay had on the defendant. In doctrinal terms, the delay must be unreasonable and cause prejudice. 6 It is this focus on considerations other than the mere passage of time that strongly distinguishes laches from statutes of limitations.7 Laches is an equitable defense, controlled by equitable considerations. 8 Indeed, this has been said so many times that it would hardly seem to be in doubt. Nevertheless, for nearly a century, American scholars have vigorously championed the removal of all

3. Brief for Petitioner, Petrella v. Metro[Goldwyn[Mayer, Inc., No. 12[1315 (U.S. Nov. 15, 2013). 4. Brief for Respondents, Petrella v. Metro[Goldwyn[Mayer, Inc., No. 12[1315 (U.S. Dec. 16, 2013). 5. An intermediate position is also urged by the amicus brief of three leading remedies scholars. See Brief of Douglas Laycock, Mark P. Gergen, & Doug Rendleman as Amicus Curiae in Support of Neither Side, Petrella v. Metro[Goldwyn[Mayer, Inc., No. 12[1315 (U.S. Nov. 22, 2013). This essay diverges from that brief by arguing that laches is and should remain an equitable defense. 6. 1 DAN B. DOBBS, LAW OF REMEDIES: DAMAGES EQUITY RESTITUTION 103 (2d ed. 1993). 7. See Galliher v. Cadwell, 145 U.S. 368, 373 (1892). 8. Halstead v. Grinnan, 152 U.S. 412, 417 (1894). This essay describes the restriction of laches to equity as the traditional rule. It takes no position on when in the history of equity that traditional rule developed.

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distinctions between law and equity,9 including the traditional restriction of equitable defenses to equitable claims.10 Over time, that restriction has frayed at the edges, and cases can be found where state and federal courts have applied equitable defenses even to legal claims.11 The surprising thing is how rare those cases are. In the mine[ run of cases the traditional rule still holds: laches applies to equitable claims and only to equitable claims.12 In other words, laches typically applies to claims for an injunction, specific performance, constructive trust, and accounting for profits,13 but not to claims for legal remedies.14 Thus when a plaintiff seeks both legal and equitable relief, laches can knock out some or all of the claims for equitable relief, but the claims for legal relief remain.15 Nor was any of this changed by the adoption of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1938. The adoption of the Rules brought a unified procedure, with many of its elements borrowed from equity

9. See e.g., Zechariah Chafee, Jr., Foreword, SELECTED ESSAYS ON EQUITY iii, iv (Edward D. Re ed. 1955)h DOUGLAS LAYCOCK, THE DEATH OF THE IRREPARABLE INJURY RULE (1991)h Douglas Laycock, The Triumph of Equity, 56 L. & CONTEMP. PROBS 53, 53 54, 81 82 (1993)h Caprice L. Roberts, The Restitution Revival and the Ghosts of Equity, 68 WASH. & LEE L. REV. 1027, 1046 60 (2011). But cf. Henry E. Smith, An Economic Analysis of Law Versus Equity (March 2012 draft)h Edward Yorio, A Defense of Equitable Defenses, 51 OHIO ST. L.J. 1201 (1990). On the debate outside the United States, see Joshua S. Getzler, Patterns of Fusion, in THE CLASSIFICATION OF OBLIGATIONS 157, 159 other way, with courts fa 10. See, e.g., ZECHARIAH CHAFEE, JR., SOME PROBLEMS OF EQUITY 94 (1950)h T. Leigh Anenson, Limiting Legal Remedies: An Analysis of Unclean Hands, 99 KY. L.J. 63 (2010 2011). 11. See, e.g., Petrella v. Metro[Goldwyn[Mayer, Inc., 695 F.3d 946 (9th Cir. 2012)h Harris v. Beynon, 570 F. Supp. 690, 692 n.3 (N.D. Ill. 1983) (calling laches an appropriate defense to legal as well as equitable claims)h see also Eric Fetter, Note, Laches at Law in Tennessee, 28 U. MEM. L. REV. 211 (1997) (noting, and critiquing as an outlier, the application of laches to legal claims by Tennessee courts). 12. See, e.g., Wyler Summit v. Turner Broad. Sys., Inc., 235 F.3d 1184, 1193 (9th Cir. 2000) (applying California law)h Fischbach v. Fischbach, 975 A.2d 333, 350 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2009)h Dutcher v. Vandeloo, 946 N.Y.S.2d 66 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2012). 13. See, e.g., 1 DOBBS, supra note 6, recovery of any kind of equitable remedy, including injunctions, specific performance, and SPENCER W. SYMONS, POMEROY S TREATISE ON EQUITY JURISPRUDENCE

See United States v. Mack, 295 U.S. 480, 489 (1935) h 1 DOBBS, supra note 6, at 104. Thus the Court was leaning in the right direction, Oneida Cnty., N.Y. v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York State, 470 U.S. 226, 245 n.16 (1985). 15. See, e.g., Nilsen v. City of Moss Point, Miss., 674 F.2d 379, 388 (5th Cir. 1982), affirmed , 701 F.2d 556 (5th Cir. 1983)h DOUG RENDLEMAN & CAPRICE L. ROBERTS, REMEDIES: CASES AND MATERIALS 399 (8th ed. 2011).

14.

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practice.16 But the Rules were not understood as changing the requirements for equitable remedies in federal court.17 Moreover, courts have specifically held that the merger of law and equity, whether by the federal Rules or by their state counterparts, did not change the principle that laches applies only to equitable claims.18 In short, the current state of the law is described this way by the leading treatise on remedies: When laches does not amount to estoppel or waiver, it does not ordinarily bar legal claims, only equitable remedies. . . . Courts have routinely referred to laches as an equitable defense, that is, a defense to equitable remedies but not a defense available to bar a claim of legal relief. 19 It is not enough, though, to merely note the persistence of the traditional rule that laches is an equitable defense good only against equitable claims. One must also ask whether it makes any sense. The old distinction between law and equity is rooted in English political history, and by the seventeenth century the distinction was caught up in struggles over royal discretionary power. But the fact that the distinction came about through historical accident does not tell us whether it should be kept or discarded. The contemporary usefulness of the line between legal and equitable remedies, and the restriction of laches to claims for the latter, are separate questions from those of historical origins. In most American jurisdictions, there are no longer equitable courts, equitable procedures, or substantive areas of the law that are considered equitable. But equitable remedies remain largely distinct from legal ones. They still form a separate remedial domain with a number of distinctive doctrines, special defenses, ripeness standards, rules for ex post modification, and enforcement mechanisms. This domain of equitable remedies and related rules has its own logic and coherence, and that logic can be weakened if one piece at a time is pulled out. The logic works like this: (1) Every legal system needs remedies that compel action or inaction by parties, beyond merely the payment of money. In our system, those remedies are primarily equitable.

16. See generally Stephen N. Subrin, How Equity Conquered Common Law: The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in Historical Perspective, 135 U. PA. L. REV. 909 (1987). 17. See Stephen B. Burbank, The Bitter with the Sweet: Tradition, History, and Limitations on Federal Judicial Power A Case Study, 75 NOTRE DAME L. REV. in the mid[1930s, the rulemakers were well aware of the delicacy of the subject of federal injunctions, and they consciously chose to treat the subject lightly, taking the provisions of Rule isting statutes and rules.) (internal quotation marks and footnotes omitted). 18. See, e.g., Lyons , L.P. v. Morris Costumes, Inc., 243 F.3d 789, 798 (4th Cir. 2001)h Smith v. Gehring, 496 A.2d 317, 323 25 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1985). 19. 1 DOBBS, supra note 6, at 104, 105 106.

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(2) Once those remedies compelling action or inaction are in place, a legal system will need devices that allow the court to manage the compliance of the parties by observing and responding to violations. In our system many of those devices are exclusive to equitable remedies, such as contempt sanctions, opportunities to modify or dissolve the remedy as circumstances change, and the appointment of monitors and receivers.20 (3) Once those managerial devices are in place, a legal system will need means of channeling their proper use and restraining their misuse especially because of the degree to which these remedies can burden judicial resources and infringe on individual liberty.21 This is where the equitable defenses fit, as well as a number of other equitable doctrines. In short, certain kinds of remedies are needed, those remedies require devices for the court to manage the parties, and those remedies and managerial devices need special restraints because of their administrative costs and potential for abuse. In our legal system, this is, roughly speaking, the logic of equitable remedies, equitable enforcement, and equitable constraints. Laches fits into the logic at step three: it is one of the constraints on equitable remedies. To be clear, it is not a constraint on judges conscious misuse of equitable remedies. It is, after all, discretionary. And what it does can often be achieved through other doctrines. But laches, like many other rules constraining equity, is a way of focusing judicial attention (both at the trial and appellate level) on a set of cases in which an equitable remedy will usually be inapt. Now, in some ways, the doctrine of laches that survives in American law is quite different from the traditional doctrine. When there were no statutes of limitations on claims in equity, laches referred to the full range of equity s responses to the passage of time. A court of equity could deny relief where there had been unreasonable and prejudicial delay, or grant relief in the interests of justice even though decades had passed. Either way, courts of equity would emphasize traditionally equitable concerns, such as the fault of the party, the discretion of the judge, and the facts of the case. Today, laches tends to be used in a narrower, negative sense as a reason to deny equitable relief within the statutory period rather than as a

20. For discussion of these and other managerial devices that enhance the injunction, see Samuel L. Bray, The Myth of the Mild Declaratory Judgment, 63 DUKE L.J. (forthcoming 2014). 21. On judicial resources, see id. On liberty infringement, see Doug Rendleman, Irreparability Irreparably Damaged, 90 MICH. L. REV. 1642 (1992). But see Laycock, Triumph of Equity, supra note 9, at 79

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wholly separate approach to the passage of time to be used in courts of equity. Yet even for laches in its current form, there are reasons to keep the traditional restriction of laches to equitable claims. The argument that follows is not premised on the idea that laches would never be useful for legal claims. Rather, the argument is a relative one: laches is more useful for equitable ones. This relative affinity between laches and claims for equitable remedies shows that the traditional restriction is not arbitrary. First, compared to legal remedies, equitable remedies tend to be more vulnerable to changing circumstances. Money is money, and inflation can be calculated for damages.22 But injunctions may become impossible as circumstances change, especially mandatory injunctions (i.e., injunctions that require, rather than prohibit, conduct by the enjoined party). Constructive trusts can be imposed only on a defined corpus, but as time passes, and funds are transferred and things are bought and sold, that sharp definition wears away. And accounting for profits becomes more difficult and error[prone as time recedes, because it depends to an unusual degree on the survival of records.23 Second, equitable remedies are more likely to be opportunistically abused as time passes. The amount of damages does not typically fluctuate based on conduct after the legal violation. But the value of an injunction, specific performance, or accounting for profits often will vary based on actions in the future. Indeed, this kind of opportunistic abuse of equitable remedies where the plaintiff waits to see whether the value of an asset goes up or down before suing is cited by courts as a reason to invoke laches to cut short the time allowed by a statute of limitations.24 By contrast, the non[ monetary remedies available at law tend not to involve property or profits (with the exception of replevin), and thus they are less vulnerable to this form of opportunism. Third, equitable remedies tend to impose greater costs on the parties and the judicial system. In part this is because of the cost for parties to comply, and in part because of the cost of having judges oversee that compliance. This is, again, a probabilistic point: a simple
22. To extend the point to nonmonetary relief at law: the good sought in replevin is still intact, or else the plaintiff would not post the required bondh and mandamus seeks the performance of an existing duty. 23. See, e.g., Stearns v. Page, 48 U.S. 81

24. See, e.g., Twin[Lick Oil Co. v. Marbury, 91 U.S. 587, 592 593 (1875)h Haas v. Leo Feist, Inc., 234 F. 105, 108 (S.D.N.Y. 1916) (Hand, J.)h see also 3 DOBBS, supra note 6, at 220 21 & nn. 27 28.

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prohibitory injunction may be easily complied with, and a court may have to exert itself to enforce legal remedies. Nevertheless, there is a pronounced tendency for legal remedies to require something of the defendant that is sharply defined: for damages, an amount of money that can be countedh for replevin, a specific object that can be returnedh for mandamus, a duty that can be performed a duty that is so fully specified that it can be considered ministerial. Equitable remedies tend to impose duties that lack such a sharp definition. True, an injunction must be specific in its requirements and prohibitions, but what an injunction is specific about is often performance that must be measured in qualitative terms. A constructive trust imposes the duties of a trustee, which are famously impossible to fully specify ex ante. Further, specific performance and accounting for profits also impose duties that are hard to specify ex ante and that can require judicial management ex post.25 Finally, laches is not so much a granting of judicial power as it is a way of structuring decisionmaking about the equitable powers the courts already have. Equitable remedies are not given as of righth judges have equitable discretion not to give them. That means judges can achieve the effect of laches without ever invoking laches. It might, therefore, seem to be a pointless doctrine. But many equitable doctrines overlap in this way, and they are not the worse for doing so. Instead, as noted above, equitable doctrines focus judicial attentionh they structure and guide the exercise of equitable discretion. Laches does that by calling judicial attention to the problem of abusive, prejudicial delay in a manner fully consistent with traditional equitable concerns.26 For those who argue that equity should no longer be thought of as distinctive, this will of course not be a persuasive point. But for those who think equitable remedies are distinctive for reasons of history and the logic of equity sketched out above applying laches only to equitable remedies is just a variation on the

25. This point would admittedly not be sufficient if it stood alone, since it shows why there should be doctrines favoring legal relief but it does not by itself indicate why one of these doctrines should concern prejudicial delay. 26. See Roger Young & Stephen Spitz, SUEM Spitz Equity, Good Guys Should Win and Bad Guys Should Lose, 55 S.C. L. REV. 175, 177 (2003) (discussing laches an English chancellor said, in words that have often been quoted by the U.S. Supreme Court: A court of equity, which is never active in relief against conscience or public convenience, has always refused its aid to stale demands, when the party has slept upon his right, and acquiesced for a great length of time. Nothing can call forth this court into activity but conscience, good faith, and reasonable diligence. When these are wanting, the court is passive, and does nothing. Laches and neglect are always discountenanced. Smith v. Clay, 3 Brown, Ch. 639 (1767) (Camden, Ch.).

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general themes of equity s distinctive concern with particular circumstances, abuse of rights, and good faith. There are two main objections to this argument. One is that limiting laches to equitable claims will not make much difference, since the defense of estoppel is available no matter what remedy is sought. It is true that in extreme cases of laches a defendant can also raise the defense of estoppel, because with enough time delay shades into the misrepresentation that estoppel requires. But there are less extreme cases, cases where the plaintiff is guilty of prejudicial delay but not misrepresentation (and is thus subject to laches but not estoppel). Indeed, Petrella itself seems to be such a case. Moreover, this objection actually strengthens the argument for restricting laches to claims for equitable remedies. Restricting laches will not lead to egregious results because estoppel will be available for all claims in an extreme case. The parade of horribles has few if any floats. The other objection is that it would be better to go behind the law and equity proxies to just ask, in each case, whether laches is needed. This critique is more radical and could be extended to all of the doctrines that distinguish legal from equitable relief we could discard the entire distinction and rely instead on purely functional analysis.27 Yet legal systems pervasively use rules without collapsing them into the underlying functional arguments. In doing so, legal systems are often taking into account institutional constraints such as imperfect knowledge, mistaken judgment, and the cost of transmitting information. Put differently, the restriction of laches to equitable claims is a rule (albeit a rule about the scope of a standard), with all the pros and cons that being a rule implies. That is not a fault, unless it is a bad rule. But it is not. Equitable remedies are the ones that are most vulnerable to changing circumstances and opportunistic abuse as time passes, and they are more costly to provide. In short, laches is traditionally an equitable defense. This is not an arbitrary distinction, and there is reason to keep the traditional rule as long as the line between equitable and legal remedies persists. III. LACHES IN AN AGE OF STATUTES OF LIMITATION Another question raised by Petrella is about the interaction of laches with a federal statute of limitations.28 The potential for tension

27. See Laycock, Triumph of Equity, supra note 9. 28. This question is distinguishable from the preceding one about whether laches should be distinctively equitable, but these two questions may be related in a subtly hydraulic way. If laches were to be extended to all claims, judges might be more willing to reduce the circumstances in which it could be invoked. More breadth, less depth.

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between statutes of limitations and equity is hardly new. They have coexisted in Anglo[American law for more than four centuries. What follows here is not a full history of the relationship between laches and statutes of limitations but merely a suggestive and preliminary survey of leading cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court has had numerous cases that directly address whether the presence of a statute of limitations displaces laches. In these cases, including the ones noted below, the Court routinely applied laches to equitable claims even though one of the parties invoked a statute of limitations. In Piatt v. Vattier,29 rejecting an equitable claim to quiet title to real property and for an account of profits brought after thirty years of possession by the defendant, the Court expressly chose not to base its holding on the statute of limitations for analogous claims at law but instead based it on the equitable defense of laches independently of [the] statute. 30 In McKnight v. Taylor,31 the Court applied laches to a suit to execute a trust seemingly only months before the twenty[year statute of limitations would have run for a similar claim to recover debts at law.32 The Court relied on the principle that a court of chancery refuses to lend its aid to stale demands and that a lack of conscience, good faith, and reasonable diligence is always a limitation of suit in that court. 33 In Bowman v. Wathen,34 the Court invoked laches as grounds not to enjoin a ferry that had operated for thirty[eight years, allegedly in violation of the exclusive ferry right of the complainants. The Court emphasized that plaintiffs were seeking relief in equity, and that those who seek the interposition of a court of equity must comply with the settled principles which govern its action, including the rejection of stale demands independently of any statutes of limitation. 35 In Stearns v. Page,36 where the statute of limitations for account at both law and equity was six years, the Court nevertheless entertained an equitable claim for account twenty[six years after the settlement of an estate, though it denied relief because there were no

29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36.

34 U.S. 405 (1835). Id. at 415 16 (using the quoted phrase three times). 42 U.S. 161 (1843). Id. at 168. Id. 42 U.S. 189 (1843). Id. at 193 94. 48 U.S. 819 (1849).

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allegations that would justify the interference of a court of equity after so great a lapse of time. 37 In Maxwell v. Kennedy,38 where the complainant sued in equity to enforce a forty[six[year[old judgment, the Court applied laches, noting that it was unnecessary . . . to determine whether the statute of limitations of Alabama does or does not apply, because upon principles of equity the complainant could not be given relief.39 In Badger v. Badger,40 in rejecting equitable claims for fraud and account against the administrator of an estate that had been settled thirty years earlier, the Court applied laches and expressly declined to ground its decision on a statute of limitations for actions against administrators of estates. In Harwood v. Railroad Co.,41 the Court rejected an equitable claim to set aside a judicial sale, giving as one reason that the plaintiffs had waited five years to sue and had not specified when they learned the sale was collusive, adding: Without reference to any statute of limitations, the courts have adopted the principle that the delay which will defeat a recovery must depend upon the particular circumstances of each case. 42 In Hume v. Beale s Executrix,43 the Court rejected a claim against trustees brought four decades after the alleged misappropriation because the complainants laches meant they had disentitled themselves to the relief which they seek to obtain. 44 The Court added: It is an established rule with courts of equity, independent of any statute limiting the time in which suits can be brought, that they will not entertain stale demands. 45 In Marsh v. Whitmore,46 the Court rejected a seemingly meritorious claim that certain corporate bonds should be voided because the complainant s objection was stale and vague about the grounds for delay. The Court noted that equity could justly refuse to consider such a case regardless of whether the defendant had pleaded the statute of limitations.47

37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47.

Id. at 830. 49 U.S. 210 (1850). Id. at 221 22. 69 U.S. 87 (1864). 84 U.S. 78 (1872). Id. at 81. 84 U.S. 336 (1872). Id. at 348. Id. 88 U.S. 178 (1874). Id. at 184 85.

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In Twin:Lick Oil Co. v. Marbury,48 the Court held that a corporation could receive no relief in equity because it had waited an unreasonable length of time (four years) to sue to rescind a contract entered into by one of its directors, adding that in deciding what time was reasonable in any particular case, we are but little aided by the analogies of the statutes of limitation. 49 In Sullivan v. Portland & Kennebec Railroad Co.,50 the Court applied laches to bar equitable claims brought eleven years after the statute of limitations had run not because of that statute (because it had not been pleaded) but because a court of equity may decline to give relief according to the inherent principles of its own system of jurisprudence. 51 In Brown v. County of Buena Vista,52 the Court declined to give a county any relief in its suit in equity to set aside a fraudulently obtained judgment, because it had not sued promptly. The Court noted that even though the state statute of limitations might not bar the suit, a court of equity could still apply laches based on the circumstances of the particular case.53 In Speidel v. Henrici,54 the Court applied laches where a person left a commune called the Harmony Society and fifty years later sought a share of its property. The Court noted that its holding would be the same even if the case were not strictly within the statute of limitations because the plaintiff showed so little vigilance and so great laches, that the circuit court rightly held that he was not entitled to relief in equity. 55 Moreover, the Court said, [i]ndependently of any statute of limitations, courts of equity uniformly decline to assist a person who has slept upon his rights, and shows no excuse for his laches in asserting them. 56 In Alsop v. Riker,57 the Court applied laches independently of the statute of limitations to an equitable claim seeking to make trustees personally liable, without any prejudice to legal claims that might be brought.58

48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58.

91 U.S. 587 (1875). Id. at 592. 94 U.S. 806 (1876). Id. at 811. 95 U.S. 157 (1877). Id. at 160. 120 U.S. 377 (1877). Id. at 390. Id. at 387. 155 U.S. 448 (1894). Id. at 460.

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In Patterson v. Hewitt,59 the Court applied laches to a claim to enforce a trust, notwithstanding a state statute of limitations. It did so because we consider the better rule to be that, even if the statute of limitations be made applicable, in general terms to suits in equity, and not to any particular defense, the defendant may avail himself of the laches of the complainant, notwithstanding the time fixed by the statute has not expired. 60 Nevertheless, even while the Court was regularly applying laches, or declining to apply laches but recognizing its availability as a defense, there was also a strain of skepticism. In one case, in a long passage laying out the basic principles of laches, the Court added as an aside: [Query], whether the doctrine of laches or lapse of time can ever be invoked in a suit to which a statute of limitations applies. 61 Furthermore, in a number of cases, the Court suggested limiting principles for the use of laches when there was a relevant statute of limitations. The one most commonly invoked was a distinction between two kinds of equitable jurisdiction. 62 If a court s equitable jurisdiction was concurrent, which roughly meant that the case could have been brought either at law or in equity, the statute of limitations applied in equity and excluded the application of laches. But if a court had exclusive equitable jurisdiction, the court could ignore any analogous statute of limitations and apply the laches doctrine (either to extend or cut short the time given to the complaining party).63 A second limiting principle was also offered: equitable doctrines could cut short the time provided by a statute of limitations, but they could not extend it. The statute of limitations set a hard outer limit for the time in which claims could be broughth in equity that was all it did.64
59. 195 U.S. 309 (1904). 60. Id. at 319. 61. Traer v. Clews, 115 U.S. 528, 542 (1885) (citing Sheldon v. Keokuk Northern Line Packet Co., 8 Fed. Rep. 769 (W.D. Wis. 1881) (Harlan, J.)). 62. ence to jurisdiction in its contemporary technical sense, i.e., whether a court has power to pronounce a DOBBS, supra note 6, at 180. 63. See, e.g., Cope v. Anderson, 331 U.S. 461, 463 464 (1947)h Russell v. Todd, 309 U.S. 280, 288 291 (1940)h Elmendorf v. Taylor, 23 U.S. 152, 177 180 note a (1825) (Marshall, C.J.). The authority usually invoked was an ambiguous passage in 2 JOSEPH STORY, COMMENTARIES ON EQUITY JURISPRUDENCE, AS ADMINISTERED IN ENGLAND AND AMERICA, § 1520, at 981 83 (4th ed. rev. corr. enl. 1846). 64. See [I]n equity the question of unreasonable delay within the statutory limitation is still open . . . . apse of time, less than that prescribed by the Statute of Limitations, as a presumptive bar, on the ground

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A third limiting principle was suggested by the first Justice Harlan: where there was a statute of limitations, the doctrine of laches could be invoked only in a clear case. 65 What should we make of these possible limiting principles today? The first should be rejected. It rested on Justice Story s unfortunate classification of equity into three different kinds of jurisdiction : exclusive, concurrent, and auxiliary (also called assistant or ancillary). The U.S. Supreme Court has never consistently applied this classification in laches cases.66 It is also quite difficult to apply, as can be seen in the historical mistakes of Justice Story and others who have tried to parcel up equitable claims and procedures among the different jurisdictional heads.67 The classification is also nearly incoherent, as can be seen in old disagreements about what belonged in each category.68 If it was difficult for Story and Pomeroy to agree on what counted as concurrent and exclusive, the passage of time has not made it easier.69 At the risk of levity, one could say that any attempt to bring back the distinction between exclusive and concurrent equitable jurisdiction should be barred by laches.

1520) (emphasis added)). Note in this regard that the strongest language in Elmendorf v. Taylor against applying laches where there is a statute of limitations is about applying it to extend the time in which a claim could be brought. See 23 U.S. at 178 note ah see also id. at 173 74. There seems to have been a particular concern that allowing certain equitable claims after a statute of limitations had run could undermine certainty about title to real property. 65. Sheldon, 8 Fed. Rep. at 773. 66. For example, Story offers account as the paradigmatic instance of concurrent jurisdiction, see 2 STORY, supra note 63, at § 1520, at 981, but account was requested in many of the cases where the Supreme Court invoked laches and declined to rest its decision on a statute of limitations, see, e.g., Badger v. Badger, 69 U.S. 87 (1864)h Piatt v. Vattier, 34 U.S. 405 (1835). 67. Mike Macnair, Equity and Conscience, 27 OXFORD J. LEGAL STUD. 659, 664 66 (2007). 68. Compare Lionel Smith, Common Law and Equity in R3RUE, 68 WASH. & LEE L. REV. concurrent jurisdiction)h George Jarvis Thompson, History of the English Courts to the Judicature Acts, Part II, 17 CORNELL L.Q. 203, 215 (1932) (same) with JOHN NORTON POMEROY, A TREATISE ON EQUITY JURISPRUDENCE 215 id. at 221

(4th ed. 19

See also 1 JOHN NORTON POMEROY, A TREATISE ON EQUITY JURISPRUDENCE 105 n. 1 (1st ed. 1886) (noting disagreement about where to place specific performance, the injunction, cancellation, bills to establish wills, bills quia timet, bills of peace, fraud, mistake, and accident). 69. It is intriguing in this respect that one of the equity courts that linger in American law, the Chancery Court of Delaware, appears to have abandoned the distinction between exclusive and concurrent equitable jurisdiction for laches in favor of a more intelligible distinction based this shift, see Kahn v. Seaboard Corp., 625 A.2d 269, 271 275 (Del. Ch. 1993).

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But one need not be as pessimistic about the other limiting principles for laches when it works alongside a statute of limitations. It might make good sense, where there is a statute of limitations, to allow the equitable defense of laches only to cut short the statutory time and not to extend it, especially since equitable tolling doctrines now suffice for extensions of statutory time periods. This limiting principle appears to have the support of a number of commentators.70 Furthermore, courts could require a clear case of laches before invoking it alongside a statute of limitations.71 That limiting principle would probably be unnecessary, though, given that there is no reason to think that courts are overusing laches. One question remains: Is laches actually consistent with the judgment made by Congress when it enacts a statute of limitations? It is clear that Congress may alter the law of remedies.72 But how clearly must it speak in order to do so? Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill73 represents one way to answer that question: look for, and follow, every indication of congressional intent about the availability of equitable remedies.74 A different approach has been taken, however, in the Court s more recent cases.75 In these cases, the Court has come very close to requiring a clear statement from Congress in order to abrogate traditional equitable principles. The approach is implicit in
70. See HENRY L. MCCLINTOCK, HANDBOOK OF THE PRINCIPLES OF EQUITY 75 (2d ed. 1948)

by the statute has expired, they still may find a delay less than the time fixed by the statute to be unreasona SYMONS, supra note 13, at EMILY SHERWIN, THEODORE EISENBERG, & JOSEPH R. RE, AMES, CHAFEE, AND RE ON REMEDIES laches remains important because it enables the court to bar equitable relief when the plaintiff has delayed for a time shorter than the statutory peri cf. OWEN M. FISS, INJUNCTIONS 93 DOUGLAS LAYCOCK, MODERN AMERICAN REMEDIES: CASES AND MATERIALS 964 (4th ed. 2010) (suggesting and DOBBS, supra note 6, at 108. 71. For a statement echoed in many cases, see 2 SYMONS, supra note 13, at 173 74. 72. Aetna Life Ins. Co. of Hartford, Conn. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 240 (1937). 73. 437 U.S. 153 (1978). 74. Id. at 192 194h see also Cnty. Of Oneida, N.Y. v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York State, 470 U.S. 226, 262 n.12 (1985) (Stevens, J., dissenting)h Weinberger v. Romero[Barcelo, 456 U.S. at 322 335 (Stevens, J., dissenting)h Daniel A. Farber, Equitable Discretion, Legal Duties, and Environmental Injunctions, 45 U. PITT. L. REV. 513 (1984). 75. See US Airway, Inc. v. McCutchen, 133 S. Ct. 1537 (2013)h Cigna Corp. v. Amara, 131 S. Ct. 1866 (2011)h Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, 130 S. Ct. 2743 (2010)h Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418 (2009)h Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7 (2008)h Sereboff v. Mid Atl. Med. Servs., Inc., 547 U.S. 356 (2006)h eBay v. MercExchange, 547 U.S. 388 (2006)h Great[West Life & Annuity Ins. Co. v. Knudson, 534 U.S. 204 (2002).

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varying degrees in Weinberger v. Romero:Barcelo76 and eBay v. MercExchange,77 both of which say that a major departure from the long tradition of equity practice should not be lightly implied, 78 and in Nken v. Holder,79 where the Court required a clear statement from Congress to change the traditional rules about injunctions and stays.80 In a similar vein, Justice Sotomayor recently argued that the rule that damages are the default and equitable relief the exception is a background principle for reading federal statutes.81 This approach has roots in the Court s earlier jurisprudence as well.82 But are judges interpreting statutes faithfully if they treat traditional equitable principles as sticky, as being dislodged only by something like a clear statement? There are three reasons to think the answer is yes. The first two reasons are grounded in policy and the third in separation of powers (though at some remove from the text of the Constitution).83 The first reason to require something like a clear statement is the logic of equitable remedies and related rules discussed above. This logic is weakened as equitable rules are pulled out one by one. The second reason is that having an accepted understanding of what an equitable remedy does, how it is enforced, and the circumstances under which it is given will both serve rule of law values and reduce information costs. The rule of law values include consistency and notice, which especially matter because of the threat of contempt for violation of an equitable remedy. Having some kind of accepted understanding also decreases information costs especially for non[parties, who may need to understand the implications of a particular injunction. Of course, abolishing laches does not change the effect of an injunction after it has been given. But there is a slippery slope: letting laches be easily displaced might be fine, but what if we also did the same with whether an injunction is enforceable by contempt, whether it can be modified, whether it only binds those acting in concert with the enjoined party, and so on?

[established and omitted)). Nken also mentioned a distinct but Id. at 426. 81. Sossamon v. Tex., 131 S. Ct. 1651, 1665 (2011) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting). 82. See Porter v. Warner Holding Co., 328 U.S. 395, 398 (1946)h Hecht Co. v. Bowles, 321 U.S. 321, 329 (1944)h Brown v. Swann, 35 U.S. 497, 503 (1836). 83. On the constitutional grounding of substantive canons, see Amy Coney Barrett, Substantive Canons and Faithful Agency, 90 B.U. L. REV. 109 (2010).

76. 77. 78. 79. 80.

456 U.S. at 320. 547 U.S. 388 (2006). 456 U.S. at 320h 547 U.S. at 391. 556 U.S. 418 (2009). See id.

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The third reason is that equitable remedies and related doctrines represent the extremities of judicial power and judicial self[ restraint, and they thus implicate to an unusual degree the inherent authority and prudential modesty of the courts. Because equitable remedies can demand so much of a court at the outer limit a structural injunction, but also many managerial decisions short of that limit courts wisely keep a watchful eye on their outstanding obligations, their uncashed checks for judicial management. 84 And because the public consequences of an equitable remedy can be so high, including but not limited to judicial resources, courts have traditionally had many reasons not to give them, including not only laches but also many other doctrines.85 (Related to this is the idea that equitable remedies are not a matter of right.86) These reasons not to give equitable remedies are used to protect third parties, to protect the defendant, and even to protect the court itself. If traditional equitable principles are not easily displaced, it is easier for courts to protect themselves in this way and to determine how their Article III powers are exercised.87 Two analogies might be made for why Congress can abrogate traditional equitable principles, but only if it says so clearly. One is jurisdiction stripping.88 The other is the displacement of the states rules of civil procedure.89 In both analogies, the clear[statement requirement is meant to reconcile congressional authority with the

84. Bray, supra note 20. 85. One example is the undue hardship defense. See generally Douglas Laycock, The Neglected Defense of Undue Hardship (and the Doctrinal Train Wreck in Boomer v. Atlantic Cement), 4 J. TORT L. 1 (2012). 86. For recent cases making this point about permanent injunctions, see Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, 130 S. Ct. 2743, 2761 (2010)h eBay v. MercExchange, 547 U.S. 388, 395 (2006) (Roberts, C.J., concurring)h Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 32 (2008)h see also Salazar v. Buono granted as a matter of course . . . 87. Note that the Constitution itself refers to a distinction between law and equity, though the implications of those references are unclear. For authority that the constitutional references to law and equity are a reason to distinguish them in the federal courts, see Bennett v. Butterworth, 52 U.S. 669, 674 675 (1850)h Commercial Nat. Bank in Shreveport v. Parsons, 144 F.2d 231, 240 241 (5th Cir. 1944)h W. S. SIMKINS, A FEDERAL EQUITY SUIT 4 (2d ed. 1911)h cf. THE FEDERALIST No. 83 (Alexander Hamilton) (describing a separation of law and equity as 88. See Henry M. Hart, Jr., The Power of Congress to Limit the Jurisdiction of Federal Courts: An Exercise in Dialectic, 66 HARV. L. REV. 1362, 1365 (1953). 89. See Stuart Minor Benjamin & Ernest A. Young, Tennis with the Net Down: Administrative Federalism Without Congress, 57 DUKE L.J. 2111, 2148 n. 138 (2008)h see also clear and express statement to the contrary, the procedural rules of omitted)).

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fact that the subject lies within the ordinary competence of a different constitutional actor. Thus, for reasons of policy, and for a somewhat more attenuated reason of constitutional principle, it is sensible for the federal courts to require something like a clear statement from Congress that it intends to displace traditional equitable principles. No such clear statement is made when Congress passes a statute of limitation, because the Court has often recognized that laches and a statute of limitations may coexist. That does not mean statutes of limitations are irrelevant for laches analysis. A statutory period could be taken as a fixed outer limit. Within that limit, a court might wisely stay its hand, following the statute of limitations unless there were a good reason not to.90 Such a sense of restraint would be consistent with the long history of courts of equity deferring to a statute of limitations. Even so, they need not always defer, for laches remains available as an equitable defense unless it is clearly abrogated by Congress. VI. A MIDDLE COURSE IN PETRELLA These points are directly relevant to Petrella. The petitioner argues that laches is entirely precluded because Congress enacted a statute of limitations. The respondents argue that laches should bar all relief in this case, legal as well as equitable. An intermediate course is supported by the analysis in this Essay: (1) laches should continue to be an equitable defense that applies to, and only to, equitable claimsh and (2) absent a clear statutory abrogation, laches should be allowed even where there is a statute of limitations since Congress is presumed to legislate against the backdrop of traditional equitable principles. This intermediate solution is congruent with the Court s recent cases on equitable remedies cases in which the Court has repeatedly appealed to traditional equitable principles.91 If the Court reverses the lower court s application of laches to the claim for damages, it will still have to decide what to do about the lower court s application of laches to the claims for equitable remedies. These include, at the very least, the requests for an injunction and for
90. Cf.

91. See US Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen, 133 S. Ct. 1537 (2013)h Cigna Corp. v. Amara, 131 S. Ct. 1866 (2011)h Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, 130 S. Ct. 2743 (2010)h Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418 (2009)h Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7 (2008)h Sereboff v. Mid Atl. Med. Servs., Inc., 547 U.S. 356 (2006)h eBay v. MercExchange, 547 U.S. 388 (2006)h Great[West Life & Annuity Ins. Co. v. Knudson, 534 U.S. 204 (2002).

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an accounting.92 Laches is discretionary and highly flexible. Courts may use it to deny one requested equitable remedy but not another.93 Courts may apply it to retrospective relief but not to prospective relief.94 Or they may apply it even to deny a prospective injunction against future violations.95 Such discretionary decisions are usually made in the first instance by the trial court and should be reversed only for abuse of discretion. In Petrella, there is no reason to think there was an abuse of discretion in the lower court s application of laches to the request for an injunction and an accounting for profits.96 V. CONCLUSION Laches is, and continues to be, an equitable defense. It is not preempted by the passage of a statute of limitations, for Congress legislates against the backdrop of traditional equitable principles. These conclusions apply in Petrella v. Metro:Goldwyn:Mayer, Inc. In that case, the Court should retain the defense of laches, notwithstanding the statute of limitations, but apply it only to the claims for equitable remedies.
92. These are contained in counts I and III of the First Amended Complaint. See First Amended Complaint for Copyright Infringement, Unjust Enrichment, and Demand for Accounting, Petrella v. Metro[Goldwyn[Mayer, Inc., 695 F.3d 946 (9th Cir. 2012) (No. CV 09[ 0072 GW (MANx)). Count II of the First Amended Complaint raises the question of how to classify the claim of unjust enrichment. The answer to that question will determine to some degree the practical effect of restricting laches to equitable claims. This essay does not attempt to resolve that question. Nor does it need to be resolved by the Supreme Court in Petrella, since it should be considered in the first instance by the lower courts. 93. See Chirco v. Crosswinds Communities, Inc., 474 F.3d 227 (6th Cir. 2007)h see also R.P. MEAGHER, W.M.C. GUMMOW, & J.R.F. LEHANE, EQUITY: DOCTRINES AND REMEDIES § 3607 (3d ed.

94. See 1 DOBBS, supra note 6, at 106. 95. See, e.g., La Republique Francaise v. Saratoga Vichy Spring Co., 191 U.S. 427, 436 439 (1903)h NAACP v. NAACP Legal Def. & Educ. Fund, Inc., 753 F.2d 131 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (Bazelon, J., joined by Mikva and Bork, JJ.)h see also Evergreen Safety Council v. RSA Network Inc., 697 F.3d 1221, 1229 30 (9th Cir. 2012). 96. The Solicitor General of the United States argues that the lower courts wrongly applied Curiae Supporting Petitioners at 15 16, Petrella v. Metro[Goldwyn[Mayer, Inc., No. 12[1315 (October 2013 Term). Behind this argument may be the idea that presumptions are somehow inimical to equity, but they are not. See generally Mark P. Gergen, John M. Golden & Henry E. Smith, The Supreme , 112 COLUM. L. REV. 203 (2012). This argument has two other failings. First, although the district court and court of appeals said there was such a presumption that is not an apt description of what they did: they analyzed the reasonableness and prejudicial effect of the delay without a thumb on the scales. e.g., Foster v. Mansfield, C & L.M.R. Co., 146 U.S. 88, 96 97 (1892), especially when applying a legal statute of see 1 DOBBS, supra note 6, at 107 08. Stray language about presuming laches is at most a venial fault and does not require reversal.

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...In language itself the spoken language is primary language and the written language is secondary language. There are thousands of languages in the world. Many of them are spoken and written. Some of them are only spoken but not written. But there is no language that is only written but not spoken. Oral communication is constantly and continually employed by an individual in the familial and social environments. Oral communication has also its vital role in business situations. Oral communication in business has a variety of purposes. The communication of information is one purpose of oral communication, and may include informing employees of company-related issues, training new hires, speaking to the general public and maintaining business to business relationships. Persuasion through marketing and advertising is another purpose of oral communication in business. It is used to show a group of people a need and provide a solution to that need. The following are some of the situations in which oral communication is employed. Example 1: Presentations One form of oral communication in a business setting is a presentation. Presentations are usually an organized conveyance of information to a group of people. Stylistically, they tend to be far more formal than informal, and rely more heavily on data and facts than they do analysis. Presentations may include some dialog after the sender of the message has finished their speech, but they are, by and large, much more......

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...why or how others may write. However, regardless of their level of knowledge many young students benefit from having their own personal stories written down to share with other students’. Teachers demonstrate to students how each of their personal experiences and stories are valuable, and they can preserve their stories by writing. This paper will show two important strategies that can support young students’ writers through dictation and translating. Taking Dictation Most parents or adults take dictation when they listen to their children and will write down their child’s oral stories before the child can write on their own. Some of the benefits of dictation are well documented (Temple, 1993; Calkins, 1994; Tunks & Giles, 2007). Taking dictation when children are telling their story is crucial to introducing the student to the intention of writing and the functions of printed language. Through dictation students learn the general purpose of writing, they become aware of the speech to text connection such as; what a person is saying and how to write what is being said. This will permit students to gain basic knowledge of sound symbol relationships, and students can be introduced to conventions of print, including capitalization and punctuation. (Morrow, 2005) stated that student can observe as their words are being written...

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