Semtek Int'l Inc. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 531 U.S. 497, 2 (2001)

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(which would be claim preclusive), the meaning of the term has undergone change, and does not necessarily designate a judgment effecting claim preclusion. There are a number of reasons for believing it does not bear that meaning in Rule 41(b). It would be peculiar to announce a federally prescribed rule on claim preclusion in a default rule for determining a dismissal's import, or to find a rule governing the effect to be accorded federal judgments by other courts ensconced in rules governing the internal procedures of the rendering court itself. Moreover, as so interpreted, the Rule would in many cases violate the federalism principle of Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U. S. 64, 78-80, by engendering substantial variations in outcomes between state and federal litigation which would likely influence forum choice, Hanna v. Plumer, 380 U. S. 460, 467-468. Finally, this Court has never relied upon the Rule when recognizing the claim-preclusive effect of federal judgments in federal-question cases. Rule 41(a) makes clear that "an adjudication upon the merits" in Rule 41(b) is the opposite of a dismissal without prejudice—that is, it is a dismissal that prevents refiling of the claim in the same court. That is undoubtedly a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one, for claim-preclusive effect in other courts. Pp. 500-506.

(b) Federal common law governs the claim-preclusive effect of a dismissal by a federal court sitting in diversity, and it is up to this Court to determine the appropriate federal rule. Since in diversity cases state, rather than federal, substantive law is at issue, there is no need for a uniform federal rule; and nationwide uniformity is better served by having the same claim-preclusive rule (the state rule) apply whether the dismissal has been ordered by a state or a federal court. Any other rule would produce the sort of forum shopping and inequitable administration of the laws that Erie seeks to avoid. While the federal reference to state law will not obtain in situations in which the state law is incompatible with federal interests, no such conflict exists here. Pp. 506-509.

128 Md. App. 39, 736 A. 2d 1104, reversed and remanded.

Scalia, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Michael Gottesman argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Jonathan S. Massey, Kenneth J. Chesebro, Thomas V. Girardi, Thomas C. Goldstein, Walter J. Lack, Andrew W. Zepeda, and Steven L. Hogan.

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