Yancoskie v. Delaware River Port Authority, No. 75--1142

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
Writing for the CourtBefore SEITZ, Chief Judge, and VAN DUSEN and ROSENN; VAN DUSEN
PartiesLorraine YANCOSKIE, Administratrix of the Estate of Francis J. Yancoskie, et al. v. DELAWARE RIVER PORT AUTHORITY, Appellant.
Decision Date24 December 1975
Docket NumberNo. 75--1142

Page 722

528 F.2d 722
Lorraine YANCOSKIE, Administratrix of the Estate of Francis
J. Yancoskie, et al.
v.
DELAWARE RIVER PORT AUTHORITY, Appellant.
No. 75--1142.
United States Court of Appeals,
Third Circuit.
Argued Sept. 5, 1975.
Reargued Nov. 17, 1975.
Decided Dec. 24, 1975.

Page 723

Elizabeth M. McKenna, John J. O'Brien, Jr., O'Brien & O'Brien, Philadelphia, Pa., and Elliott Yampell, Haddonfield, N.J., for appellant.

Louis Samuel Fine and Robert A. Ebenstein, Philadelphia, Pa., for appellees.

Before SEITZ, Chief Judge, and VAN DUSEN and ROSENN, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

VAN DUSEN, Circuit Judge.

While helping to construct a bridge linking the State of New Jersey with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and being built for the Delaware River Port Authority ('Authority'), Francis J. Yancoskie fell to his death on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge. Lorraine Yancoskie, decedent's wife, who is a Pennsylvania resident, commenced this suit in

Page 724

the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on June 10, 1974. She sued as administratrix of decedent's estate, in her own right, and on behalf of her minor son, who is also a Pennsylvania resident. The complaint asserted a right to recover any and all damages they are entitled to receive 'under any and all wrongful death or survival actions or under any other theory of law or recovery.'

On September 20, 1974, defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that there was no federal jurisdiction. 1 On December 4, 1974, the district court filed an opinion in which it denied the motion and held that there was federal jurisdiction. The rationale of the opinion was that, since the Authority was created by an interstate compact 2 pursuant to the Compact Clause of the Constitution, 3 the construction of the compact creating the Authority was a federal question. 4 From this, the district court concluded that there was federal jurisdiction, though the opinion did not specify the statute on which jurisdiction was based. Presumably the district court found jurisdiction on the basis of either 28 U.S.C. § 1331 or 28 U.S.C. § 1337.

On December 13, 1974, the district court amended the order to include a certification that 'a controlling question of law as to which there is substatial ground for difference of opinion' was involved 'and that an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.' By order dated January 7, 1975, this court granted the Authority leave to appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). The instant appeal is the result.

We hold that the district court was without jurisdiction, and we therefore reverse the denial of the defendant's motion to dismiss.

I. Federal Question Jurisdiction

We note that the district court's holding that construction of an interstate compact presents a federal question is supported by Petty v. Tennessee-Missouri Comm'n, 359 U.S. 275, 79 S.Ct. 785, 3 L.Ed.2d 804 (1959). 5 We need not decide this question here because even assuming, without deciding, the truth of that proposition, there is no federal jurisdiction in this case under § 1331 or § 1337. Section 1331 reads, in part:

Page 725

'The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions wherein the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $10,000 . . . and arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.'

The provision that the action be one which 'arises under' the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States has long been held to mean that there is jurisdiction under this section

'. . . only when the plaintiff's statement of his own cause of action shows that it is based upon those laws or that Constitution. It is not enough that the plaintiff alleges some anticipated defense to his cause of action, and asserts that the defense is invalidated by some provision of the Constitution of the United States. Although such allegations show that very likely, in the course of the litigation, a question under the Constitution would arise, they do not show that the suit, that is, the plaintiff's original cause of action, arises under the Constitution.'

Louisville & Nashville R.R. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 152, 29 S.Ct. 42, 43, 53 L.Ed. 126 (1908). See League to Save Lake Tahoe v. Tahoe Regional Plan. Agency, 507 F.2d 517, 519--20 & n. 6 (9th Cir. 1974), cert. denied, 420 U.S. 974, 95 S.Ct. 1398, 43 L.Ed.2d 654 (1975). Section 1337 also contains an 'arising under' requirement, 6 which is interpreted to be the same as the § 1331 requirement. See Peyton v. Ry. Express Agency, 316 U.S. 350, 62 S.Ct. 1171, 86 L.Ed. 1525 (1942); Springfield Television, Inc. v. City of Springfield, 428 F.2d 1375, 1378 (8th Cir. 1970).

Nor is jurisdiction conferred by the existence in the compact of a 'sue and be sued' clause, 7 although its construction might become crucial in this case. 8 This question of arguably federal law is not properly part of the plaintiff's statement of her own cause of action. Rather, it is an answer to an anticipated defense. 9 Therefore, the 'sue and be

Page 726

sued' clause did not make § 1331 or § 1337 applicable to this case. 10

The mere fact that the bridge being constructed by the Authority is an instrumentality of interstate commerce is not enough to confer federal jurisdiction under § 1337. No federal law regulating or protecting commerce is part of plaintiff's cause of action, and therefore the 'arising under' requirement of § 1337 has not been met. 11

At oral argument plaintiff's counsel relied on another ground for finding federal question jurisdiction. He pointed out that the legislation approving the compact contained the following proviso: 12

'Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to affect, impair, or diminish any right, power, or jurisdiction of the United States or of any court, department, board . . . of the United States, over or in regard to navigable waters, or any commerce between the States, . . . or any bridge, railroad, highway, . . . forming the subject matter of the aforesaid compact . . ..'

Plaintiff contends that, since building a bridge between two states over an interstate waterway is a federal function which can be undertaken only with federal approval, 13 the above proviso requires that jurisdiction be determined as if the Federal Government were building the bridge. Jurisdiction in that case would exist, plaintiff...

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22 practice notes
  • Smart v. First Federal S & L Ass'n of Detroit, Civ. No. 79-74483
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • September 15, 1980
    ...Maritime Service Corp. v. Sweet Brokerage De Puerto Rico, Inc., 537 F.2d 560 (1st Cir. 1976); Yancoskie v. Delaware River Port Authority, 528 F.2d 722 (3rd Cir. 1975); Peyton v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 316 U.S. 350, 62 S.Ct. 1171, 86 L.Ed. 1525 (1942) (discussing the predecessor to § ......
  • Kansas State University v. Prince, No. 09-4112-SAC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • December 8, 2009
    ...is subject to the arm of the state exception. See Moor, 411 U.S. at 717-718, 93 S.Ct. 1785; Yancoskie v. Delaware River Port Authority, 528 F.2d 722, 727 (3d Cir.1975). The "formal incorporation of a State-related entity is not necessarily dispositive on the issue of its autonomy, either fo......
  • MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. Teleconcepts, Inc., No. 94-5426
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • December 8, 1995
    ...section 1337 has been interpreted to be the same as that found in 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1331...."); Yancoskie v. Delaware River Port Authority, 528 F.2d 722, 725 (3d Cir.1975) 5 In Thurston, the Court rejected the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' argument that a carrier's action for payment of tran......
  • Medlin v. Boeing Vertol Co., No. 79-1027
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • April 22, 1980
    ...that found in 28 Page 963 U.S.C. § 1331, the grant of general federal question jurisdiction. Yancoskie v. Delaware River Port Authority, 528 F.2d 722, 725 (3d Cir. 1975); see Peyton v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 316 U.S. 350, 62 S.Ct. 1171, 86 L.Ed. 1525 (1942) (discussing predecessor to......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • Smart v. First Federal S & L Ass'n of Detroit, Civ. No. 79-74483
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • September 15, 1980
    ...Maritime Service Corp. v. Sweet Brokerage De Puerto Rico, Inc., 537 F.2d 560 (1st Cir. 1976); Yancoskie v. Delaware River Port Authority, 528 F.2d 722 (3rd Cir. 1975); Peyton v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 316 U.S. 350, 62 S.Ct. 1171, 86 L.Ed. 1525 (1942) (discussing the predecessor to § ......
  • Kansas State University v. Prince, No. 09-4112-SAC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • December 8, 2009
    ...is subject to the arm of the state exception. See Moor, 411 U.S. at 717-718, 93 S.Ct. 1785; Yancoskie v. Delaware River Port Authority, 528 F.2d 722, 727 (3d Cir.1975). The "formal incorporation of a State-related entity is not necessarily dispositive on the issue of its autonomy, either fo......
  • MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. Teleconcepts, Inc., No. 94-5426
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • December 8, 1995
    ...section 1337 has been interpreted to be the same as that found in 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1331...."); Yancoskie v. Delaware River Port Authority, 528 F.2d 722, 725 (3d Cir.1975) 5 In Thurston, the Court rejected the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' argument that a carrier's action for payment of tran......
  • Medlin v. Boeing Vertol Co., No. 79-1027
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • April 22, 1980
    ...that found in 28 Page 963 U.S.C. § 1331, the grant of general federal question jurisdiction. Yancoskie v. Delaware River Port Authority, 528 F.2d 722, 725 (3d Cir. 1975); see Peyton v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 316 U.S. 350, 62 S.Ct. 1171, 86 L.Ed. 1525 (1942) (discussing predecessor to......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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