Finley v. United States, 87-1973

Citation490 U.S. 545,104 L.Ed.2d 593,109 S.Ct. 2003
Decision Date22 May 1989
Docket NumberNo. 87-1973,87-1973
PartiesBarbara FINLEY, Petitioner v. UNITED STATES
CourtUnited States Supreme Court
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, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218, 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, 96 S.Ct. 2413, 49 L.Ed.2d 276, made explicit the nontransferability of Gibbs to the context of pendent-party jurisdiction. Aldinger, Zahn v. International Paper Co., 414 U.S. 291, 94 S.Ct. 505, 38 L.Ed.2d 511, and Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 98 S.Ct. 2396, 57 L.Ed.2d 274, 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 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 sty- listic change reflecting the terminology of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Fed.Rule Civ.Proc. 2. Pp. 547-556.

Affirmed.

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.

Joseph T. Cook, Irvine, Cal., for petitioner.

David L. Shapiro, for respondent.

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 granted petitioner's motion and asserted "pendent" jurisdiction under Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (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, 98 S.Ct. 1635, 56 L.Ed.2d 76 (1978), which had categorically rejected pendent-party jurisdiction under the FTCA. We granted certiorari, 488 U.S. 815, 109 S.Ct. 52, 102 L.Ed.2d 31 (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, 105 S.Ct. 432, 83 L.Ed.2d 359 (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, 2 L.Ed. 554 (1807). It 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, 18 L.Ed. 851 (1868) (emphasis added); accord, Christianson v. Colt Industries Operating Co., 486 U.S. 800, 818, 108 S.Ct. 2166, 2179, 100 L.Ed.2d 811 (1988); Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Risjord, 449 U.S. 368, 379-380, 101 S.Ct. 669, 676-677, 66 L.Ed.2d 571 (1981); Kline v. Burke Construction Co., 260 U.S. 226, 233-234, 43 S.Ct. 79, 82-83, 67 L.Ed. 226 (1922); Case of th Sewing Machine Companies, 18 Wall. 553, 577-578, 586-587, 21 L.Ed. 914 (1874); Sheldon v. Sill, 8 How. 441, 449, 12 L.Ed. 1147 (1850); Cary v. Curtis, 3 How. 236, 245, 11 L.Ed. 576 (1845); McIntire v. Wood, 7 Cranch 504, 506, 3 L.Ed. 420 (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, 53 S.Ct. 586, 77 L.Ed. 1148 (1933); Siler v. Louisville & Nashville R. Co., 213 U.S. 175, 29 S.Ct. 451, 53 L.Ed. 753 (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 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, 86 S.Ct., at 1138 (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 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...

To continue reading

Request your trial
797 cases
  • Houck v. Lifestore Bank Substitute Tr. Servs., Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of North Carolina
    • February 8, 2018
    ...standards are not equivalent). Convenience is also not a valid basis for supplemental jurisdiction. Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545, 555, 109 S.Ct. 2003, 104 L.Ed.2d 593 (1989). Finally, when considering more expansive ideas about the jurisdiction of bankruptcy courts, "caution is par......
  • Krangel v. Crown, Civ. No. 91-0210-R(P).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of California
    • May 4, 1992
    ...the Original Intent of Congress, 29 Santa Clara L.Rev. 21, 41 n. 75 (1989). As the Court stated in Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545, 554, 109 S.Ct. 2003, 2009, 104 L.Ed.2d 593 (1989), "concerning the 1948 recodification of the Judicial Code in particular, we have stated that `no change......
  • Olden v. LaFarge Corp.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • September 7, 2004
    ...of meeting the jurisdictional amount. The decision in Zahn was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545, 556, 109 S.Ct. 2003, 104 L.Ed.2d 593 (1989). In Finley, the petitioner brought suit in federal court after her husband was killed when his plane struck el......
  • In re Lang
    • United States
    • Bankruptcy Appellate Panels. U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, Tenth Circuit
    • May 28, 2003
    ...bankruptcy cases. It also conflicts with our admonition to not "read jurisdictional statutes broadly." Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545, 549, 109 S.Ct. 2003, 104 L.Ed.2d 593 (1989). Federal bankruptcy jurisdiction is found in 28 U.S.C. § 1334(a), which grants the district courts "origi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 books & journal articles
  • National Personal Jurisdiction
    • United States
    • Emory University School of Law Emory Law Journal No. 68-3, 2019
    • Invalid date
    ...note 68, at § 1069.7.159. See United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725 (1966).160. See id.161. See Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545, 549-56 (1989).162. Pub. L. No. 101-650, 104 Stat. 5089, 5113 (codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1367 (2012)).163. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).164. Id.165. As......
  • CHAPTER 7
    • United States
    • Full Court Press Zalma on Property and Casualty Insurance
    • Invalid date
    ...to preserve a claim for mold caused by air-conditioning and plumbing leaks. See Fiess, 392 F.3d at 804, 807.[60] See Finley v. U.S., 490 U.S. 545, 565 n.18 (1989) (noting Friendly “is universally recognized. . . as one of our wisest judges”); Paul Freund, In Memoriam: Henry J. Friendly, 99 ......
  • Begging the Federal Question: Removal Jurisdiction in Wrongful Discharge Cases
    • United States
    • Seattle University School of Law Seattle University Law Review No. 20-01, September 1996
    • Invalid date
    ...and (3) the claims are such that a plaintiff ordinarily would be expected to try them all in one proceeding. Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545, 549 (1989) (quoting United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725 49. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) (Supp. Ill 1991); Contemporary Servs. Corp. v. ......
  • Subject Matter Jurisdiction In Antitrust and Business Tort Litigation
    • United States
    • ABA Archive Editions Library Business Torts and Unfair Competition Handbook. Second Edition Business Tort Litigation
    • June 23, 2006
    ...(1988). 104. Id. at 357. 105. 28 U.S.C. § 1367 (applying to civil actions filed on or after December 1, 1990). 106. Id. § 1367(a). 107. 490 U.S. 545 (1989). 108. Id. at 556. 109. E.g. , MCI Telecomms. Corp. v. Teleconcepts, Inc., 71 F.3d 1086, 1102 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Gibbs , 383 U.S. at......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT