Courthouse Steps Oral Argument: Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt: Reviving Sister-State Sovereign Immunity

A Teleforum Call Sponsored by the Federalism & Separation of Powers Practice Group

After Gilbert Hyatt, the petitioner, moved to Nevada he was investigated by the Franchise Tax Board of California for failing to pay California personal income taxes. Due to California’s actions in doing so, Hyatt sued California in Nevada’s courts for negligent misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, and breach of a confidential relationship for which the jury found for Hyatt on all claims. California appealed the decision seeking to get the judgment vacated on sovereign immunity grounds. 

This teleform will discuss the Supreme Court oral arguments in Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt. This case considers if a citizen can sue a state in the court of a different state. This raises a variety of substantial questions concerning federalism and state sovereign immunity. In Nevada v. Hall (1979), the Supreme Court rejected that sister-state immunity was implicit in the Constitution. Today in Hyatt, 44 states, among others, are asking the Court to overturn that decision and protect states from suit in other state’s courts. Professor Stephen Sachs will discuss how the Court approached this case at oral arguments and its implications on the future of state sovereign immunity.


Prof. Stephen E. Sachs, Professor of Law, Duke Law


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