490 U.S. 545 (1989), 87-1973, Finley v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 87-1973
Citation:490 U.S. 545, 109 S.Ct. 2003, 104 L.Ed.2d 593, 57 U.S.L.W. 4557
Party Name:Finley v. United States
Case Date:May 22, 1989
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 545

490 U.S. 545 (1989)

109 S.Ct. 2003, 104 L.Ed.2d 593, 57 U.S.L.W. 4557

Finley

v.

United States

No. 87-1973

United States Supreme Court

May 22, 1989

Argued February 28, 1989

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURTOF APPEALS FOR

THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Petitioner's decedents were killed when their plane struck electric power lines on its approach to a city-run airfield in San Diego. She filed the present action against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b), claiming that the Federal Aviation Administration had been negligent in its operation and maintenance of runway lights and in its performance of air traffic control functions. Petitioner subsequently moved to amend her complaint to add state tort law claims against both the city and the utility company that maintained the power lines. The District Court granted the motion and asserted "pendent" jurisdiction under Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, concluding that "judicial economy and efficiency" favored trying the actions together, and that the claims arose "from a common nucleus of operative facts." The Court of Appeals reversed on interlocutory appeal, categorically rejecting pendent-party jurisdiction under the FTCA.

Held: The text of the FTCA -- which provides in pertinent part that the federal district courts shall have jurisdiction over "civil actions on claims against the United States" -- defines jurisdiction in a manner that does not reach defendants other than the United States. This Court's decision in Aldinger v. Howard, 427 U.S. 1, made explicit the nontransferability of Gibbs to the context of pendent party jurisdiction. Aldinger, Zahn v. International Paper Co., 414 U.S. 291, and Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, establish that a grant of jurisdiction over claims involving particular parties does not confer jurisdiction over additional claims by or against different parties, even if consideration of the additional claims would promote "judicial economy and efficiency," and all of the claims "derive from a common nucleus of operative fact." Nor do the circumstances here suffice to establish "ancillary" jurisdiction. The unavailability of jurisdiction over the additional claims is unaltered by the exclusivity of federal jurisdiction under the FTCA, even though that may sometimes require separate [109 S.Ct. 2005] suits in state and federal court. Finally, the 1948 revision of the Judicial Code, which changed the relevant language of the FTCA from "any claim against the United States" to its present form, does not suggest an affirmative grant of pendent party jurisdiction, but is more naturally understood as a stylistic

Page 546

change reflecting the terminology of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Fed.Rule Civ.Proc. 2. Pp. 547-556.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, O'CONNOR, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 556. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 558.

SCALIA, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.

On the night of November 11, 1983, a twin-engine plane carrying petitioner's husband and two of her children struck electric transmission lines during its approach to a San Diego, California, airfield. No one survived the resulting crash. Petitioner brought a tort action in state court, claiming that San Diego Gas and Electric Company had negligently positioned and inadequately illuminated the transmission lines, and that the city of San Diego's negligent maintenance of the airport's runway lights had rendered them inoperative the night of the crash. When she later discovered that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was in fact the party responsible for the runway lights, petitioner filed the present action against the United States in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. The complaint based jurisdiction upon the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b), alleging negligence in the FAA's operation and maintenance of the runway lights and performance of air traffic control functions. Almost a year later, she moved to amend the federal complaint to include claims against the original state court defendants, as to which no independent basis for federal jurisdiction existed. The District Court

Page 547

granted petitioner's motion and asserted "pendent" jurisdiction under Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715 (1966), finding it "clear" that "judicial economy and efficiency" favored trying the actions together, and concluding that they arose "from a common nucleus of operative facts." App. to Pet. for Cert. A-8 to A-9. The District Court certified an interlocutory appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). That court summarily reversed on the basis of its earlier opinion in Ayala v. United States, 550 F.2d 1196 (1977), cert. dism'd, 435 U.S. 982 (1978), which had categorically rejected pendent party jurisdiction under the FTCA. We granted certiorari, 488 U.S. 815 (1988), to resolve a split among the Circuits on whether the FTCA permits an assertion of pendent jurisdiction over additional parties. Compare, e.g., Ayala v. United States, supra, with Lykins v. Pointer, Inc., 725 F.2d 645 (CA11 1984), and Stewart v. United States, 716 F.2d 755 (CA10 1982), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 1018 (1984).

The FTCA provides that "the district courts . . . shall have exclusive jurisdiction of civil actions on claims against the United States" for certain torts of federal employees acting within the scope of their employment. 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b). Petitioner seeks to append her claims against the city and the utility to her FTCA action against the United States, even though this would require the District Court to extend its authority to additional parties for whom an independent jurisdictional base -- such as diversity of citizenship, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) -- is lacking.

In 1807, Chief Justice Marshall wrote for the Court that

courts which are created by written law, and whose jurisdiction is defined by written law, cannot transcend that jurisdiction. It is unnecessary to state the reasoning on which this opinion is founded, because it has been repeatedly given by this court; and with the decisions heretofore rendered on this point, no member of the bench has, even for an instant, been dissatisfied.

Ex parte Bollman, 4 Cranch 75, 93 (1807). It

Page 548

remains rudimentary law that

[a]s regards all courts of the United States inferior to this tribunal, two things are necessary to create jurisdiction, whether original or appellate. The Constitution must have given to the court the capacity to take it, and an act of Congress must have supplied it. . . . To the extent that such action is not taken, the power lies dormant.

The Mayor v. Cooper, 6 Wall. 247, 252 (1868) (emphasis added); accord, Christianson v. Colt Industries Operating Co., 486 U.S. 800, 818 (1988); Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Risjord, 449 U.S. 368, 379-380 (1981); Kline v. Burke Construction Co., 260 U.S. 226, 233-234 (1922); Case of the Sewing Machine Companies, 18 Wall. 553, 577-578, 586-587 (1874); Sheldon v. Sill, 8 How. 441, 449 (1850); Cary v. Curtis, 3 How. 236, 245 (1845); McIntire v. Wood, 7 Cranch 504, 506 (1813).

Despite this principle, in a line of cases by now no less well established, we have held, without specific examination of jurisdictional statutes, that federal courts have "pendent" claim jurisdiction -- that is, jurisdiction over nonfederal claims between parties litigating other matters properly before the court -- to the full extent permitted by the Constitution. Mine Workers v. Gibbs, supra; Hurn v. Oursler, 289 U.S. 238 (1933); Siler v. Louisville & Nashville R. Co., 213 U.S. 175 (1909).1 Gibbs, which has come to stand for the principle in question, held that

[p]endent jurisdiction, in the sense of judicial power, exists whenever there is a claim "arising under [the] Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority . . . ," U.S.Const., Art. III, § 2, and the relationship

Page 549

between that claim and the state claim permits the conclusion that the entire action before the court comprises but one constitutional "case."

383 U.S. at 725 (emphasis in original). The requisite relationship exists, Gibbs said, when the federal and nonfederal claims "derive from a common nucleus of operative fact" and are such that a plaintiff "would ordinarily be expected to try them in one judicial proceeding." Ibid. Petitioner contends that the same criterion applies here, leading to the result that her state law claims against San Diego Gas and Electric Company and the city of San Diego may be heard in conjunction with her FTCA action against the United States.

Analytically, petitioner's case is fundamentally different from Gibbs in that it brings into question what has become known as pendent party jurisdiction, that is, jurisdiction over parties not named in any claim that is independently cognizable [109 S.Ct. 2007] by the federal court.2 We may assume, without deciding, that the constitutional criterion for pendent party jurisdiction is analogous to the constitutional criterion for pendent claim jurisdiction, and that petitioner's state law claims pass that test. Our cases show, however, that, with respect to the addition of parties, as opposed to the addition of only claims, we will not assume that the full constitutional power has been congressionally authorized, and will not read jurisdictional statutes broadly. In Zahn v. International Paper Co., 414 U.S. 291, 301 (1973), we refused to allow a...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP