Fawvor v. Texaco, Inc., 75-2596

Citation546 F.2d 636
Decision Date04 February 1977
Docket NumberNo. 75-2596,75-2596
PartiesCurtis FAWVOR, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. TEXACO, INC., Defendant-Third-Party Plaintiff, v. FOSTER WHEELER CORPORATION, Third-Party Defendant-Appellee. B & B Insulation, Inc., Defendant-Third-Party Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)

John G. Tucker, Lawrence L. Germer, Beaumont, Tex., for appellant.

Joe H. Tonahill, Jasper, Tex., for Curtis Fawvor.

J. Dan Bohannan, Dallas, Tex., for Burford, Ryburn & Ford.

John G. Bissell, Beaumont, Tex., for Texaco, Inc.

George A. Weller, Beaumont, Tex., for Foster Wheeler, and others.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Before BROWN, Chief Judge, and HILL and FAY, Circuit Judges.

FAY, Circuit Judge:

This interlocutory appeal was taken pursuant to Title 28, U.S.C. § 1292(b), to have the Court determine whether an independent basis for jurisdiction must exist before a plaintiff in a diversity case may assert a state-created cause of action against a third party defendant, when both the plaintiff and the third-party defendant are citizens of the same state. This Court finds that some independent basis is necessary for federal jurisdiction, and therefore reverses the lower court.

Based on diversity jurisdiction, plaintiff, a Texas citizen, brought a negligence action in federal district court under state law against Texaco, a Delaware corporation whose principal place of business was determined by the trial court to be other than Texas. 1 When Texaco subsequently impleaded B & B Insulation, Inc., as a third-party defendant, pursuant to Rule 14, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 2 seeking common law indemnity, plaintiff asserted a negligence claim directly against B & B 3, which moved to dismiss due to lack of diversity jurisdiction. The district court denied the motion to dismiss and the third-party defendant, B & B, instituted this interlocutory appeal.

Appellant submits that the plaintiff could not have sued B & B in the federal court because no diversity of citizenship exists between the plaintiff and B & B, so that allowing plaintiff to assert a cause of action merely because B & B was brought into the case as third-party defendant would permit plaintiff to do indirectly what it could not do directly. See McPherson v. Hoffman, 275 F.2d 466 (6th Cir. 1960); Palumbo v. Western Maryland Ry., 271 F.Supp. 361 (D.C.Md.1967) Hoskie v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America, 39 F.Supp. 305 (D.C.N.Y.1941). Appellant also argues that, although there is no indication of collusion between the plaintiff and the defendant in the instant case, if the plaintiff is permitted to maintain its action against a non-diverse defendant, it is encouraged to sue a diverse defendant, knowing that such defendant as a practical matter will interplead other parties and thus provide a vehicle for plaintiff's jurisdiction. This would encourage suits against persons who otherwise could not and should not be involved in the litigation, which appellant submits is the position of Texaco, the diverse defendant in the instant case.

Plaintiff-Appellee, on the other hand, contends that ancillary and pendent jurisdiction permit the federal court to consider all claims deriving from a common nucleus of operative facts, relying on Moor v. County of Alameda, 411 U.S. 693, 93 S.Ct. 1785, 36 L.Ed.2d 596 (1973); United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966), so that the plaintiff's claim against the third-party defendant should be heard along with the plaintiff's claim against the original defendant. Appellee also suggests that this would avoid circuity and multiplicity of litigation.

Rule 14 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs third-party practice. 4 Under this rule, where there is diversity between the plaintiff and the defendant, the defendant may implead a third-party of the same citizenship as the plaintiff. Agrashell, Inc. v. Bernard Sirotta Co.,344 F.2d 583 (2nd Cir. 1965); Stemler v. Burke, 344 F.2d 393 (6th Cir. 1965); Williams v. Keyes, 125 F.2d 208 (5th Cir. 1942). See also, 3 J. Moore, Federal Practice, P 14.26 at 701-702 (1968). Pursuant to Rule 14, a plaintiff is also permitted to "assert any claim against the third-party defendant arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the plaintiff's claim against the third-party plaintiff." However, Rule 14 does not indicate whether it is necessary to have a basis of jurisdiction independent of the main action in order to support a plaintiff's claim against a third-party defendant. 5

The fundamental and well-established principle is that complete diversity between the plaintiff and all defendants is required under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 3 Cranch (7 U.S.) 267, 2 L.Ed. 435 (1806). A plaintiff may not sue one non-diverse defendant along with a diverse defendant. Mas v. Perry, 489 F.2d 1396 (5th Cir. 1974); Anderson v. Papillion, 445 F.2d 841 (5th Cir. 1971); Lowry v. International Brotherhood et al., 259 F.2d 568 (5th Cir. 1958).

The constitutional, statutory and public policy arguments behind the diversity doctrine seem equally as applicable to situations where a defendant files a third-party claim. In diversity cases, the federal courts have jurisdiction under the law because citizens of different states are involved. 6 This basic concept is violated when the plaintiff is permitted to sue both diverse and non-diverse defendants, and is equally violated where such suit occurs as a result of the filing of a third-party complaint. Although plaintiff argues that ancillary jurisdiction and convenience justify his third-party action, a similar argument is present when a plaintiff sues a diverse and a non-diverse defendant, and such argument has been rejected. See Pearce v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 162 F.2d 524 (3rd Cir. 1947), cert. denied, 332 U.S. 765, 68 S.Ct. 71, 92 L.Ed. 350.

Not only does the rationale behind the diversity jurisdiction statute (28 U.S.C. § 1332) require its strict construction, see Thomson v. Gaskill,315 U.S. 442, 62 S.Ct. 673, 86 L.Ed. 951 (1942); McCoy v. Siler, 205 F.2d 498 (3rd Cir. 1953), but Rule 82, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, states that "(t) hese rules shall not be construed to extend or limit the jurisdiction of the United States district courts or the venue of the actions therein." The majority of the courts that have explored the question demand an independent jurisdictional basis for a plaintiff's claim against a third-party defendant. 7

The Supreme Court recently voiced its opinion in Aldinger v. Howard, 427 U.S. 1, 96 S.Ct. 2413, 49 L.Ed.2d 276 (1976), where it affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the action against one party for lack of any independent ground of jurisdiction. The facts reveal that Aldinger was allegedly discharged by the county treasurer without a hearing. Aldinger brought suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the treasurer, Howard, as well as against Spokane County and other county officers claiming that her discharge violated her federal constitutional rights and seeking injunctive relief and damages. Jurisdiction of the federal claim was asserted under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3). The district court dismissed the action against the county on the ground that since it was not suable as a "person" under § 1983, there was no independent basis of jurisdiction over the county and that the court therefore had no power to exercise pendent jurisdiction over the claims against the county. This dismissal was upheld and distinguished from the line of cases leading up to United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966), stating: 8

These cases, from Osborn to Gibbs, show that in treating litigation where nonfederal questions or claims were bound up with the federal claim upon which the parties were already in federal court, this Court has found nothing in Art III's grant of judicial power which prevented adjudication of the nonfederal portions of the parties' dispute. None of them, however, adverted to the separate question, involved in the instant case, of whether a nonfederal claim could in turn be the basis for impleading a party over whom no independent federal jurisdiction exists, simply because that claim could be derived from the "common nucleus of operative fact" giving rise to the dispute between the parties to the federal claim. (emphasis in original). 427 U.S. at 9, 96 S.Ct. at 2418, 49 L.Ed.2d at 283.

Considering the situation where, as in the instant case a new party is impleaded, the Supreme Court wrote as follows:

The situation with respect to the impleading of a new party, however, strikes us as being both factually and legally different from the situation facing the Court in Gibbs and its predecessors. From a purely factual point of view, it is one thing to authorize two parties, already present in federal court by virtue of a case over which the court has jurisdiction, to litigate in addition to their federal claim a state law claim over which there is no independent basis of federal jurisdiction. But it is quite another thing to permit a plaintiff, who has asserted a claim against one defendant with respect to which there is a federal jurisdiction, to implead an entirely different defendant on the basis of a state law claim over which there is no independent basis of federal jurisdiction, simply because his claim against the first defendant and his claim against the second defendant "derive from a common nucleus of operative fact." Ibid. True, the same considerations of judicial economy would be served insofar as plaintiff's claims "are such that he would ordinarily be expected to try them all in one judicial proceeding . . .." Ibid. But the addition of a completely new party would run counter to the well-established principle that federal courts, as opposed to state trial courts of general jurisdiction, are courts of limited jurisdiction marked...

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