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DE BELLAS v. UNITED STATES

July 17, 1982

JAMES J. DE BELLAS AND VICTORIA DE BELLAS, Plaintiffs, against UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, KESTEN PLUMBING & HEARING CORPORATION, AND PJR CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

MEMORANDUM

VINCENT L. BRODERICK, U.S.D.J.

 I.

 Plaintiffs James J. DeBellas and Victoria DeBellas brought this personal injury action for alleged negligence on the part of defendants in the construction, repair and renovation taking place at the premises of 201 Varick Street, New York, New York, on March 4, 1980. Defendants are United States of America ("United States"), which, through its General Services Administration, was the owner of the aforesaid premises; PJR Construction Corporation ("PJR"), general contractor employed by the United States at the premises; and Kesten Plumbing & Heating Corporation ("Kesten"), subcontractor engaged in work at the premises (PJR and Kesten are collectively referred to as "the corporate defendants").

 Plaintiffs have brought suit under the Federal Torts Claims Act, 28 U.S.C.§ 2671, et seq., and have predicated jurisdiction on 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b). All defendants have answered the complaint. Each of the defendants has filed cross-claims against the remaining codefendants.

 II.

 Defendant Kesten moved for an order dismissing the complaint against it for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Plaintiff cross-moved for an order striking the affirmative defenses of defendants Kesten and PJR based on lack of diversity jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).

 On July 13, 1982 I denied defendant Kesten's motion to dismiss, and granted plaintiff's cross-motion to strike the affirmative defenses.This memorandum sets out the reasons for those dispositions.

 III.

 Plaintiffs' claim against defendants Kesten and PJR sounds in common law negligence. Acknowledging that plaintiff and the corporate defendants are residents of New York for jurisdictional purposes, plaintiffs ask this court to exercise jurisdiction over these defendants under the doctrine of pendent jurisdiction. *fn1" Plaintiffs argue that there is no constitutional or statutory barrier to the assertion of jurisdiction and that the interests of judicial economy, convenience and fairness to the litigants support the result they seek. Defendant Kesten maintains that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the claim against it for the following reasons: 1) diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 is admittedly lacking; 2) while the doctrine of pendent jurisdiction allows assertion of related state claims, it is inapplicable to parties as to whom there exists no independent basis for jurisdiction.

 IV.

 A.

 While federal courts possess only limited jurisdiction they have frequently adjudicated claims that extend beyond a given statutory grant of jurisdiction as ancillary to their resolution of the controversy within the specific grant. E.g. United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715 (1966). Thus pendent jurisdiction has been accepted with regard to state claims factually related to the federal claim forming the predicate for jurisdiction. United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, supra.

 The doctrine of pendent jurisdiction is not, however, without its limits. Especially unsettled is the status of the law with regard to pendent party jurisdiction to allow the plaintiff to assert state law claims against additional defendants over whom no independent predicate for jurisdiction exists.

 As the Supreme Court has warned, before concluding that such pendent jurisdiction exists, the court must satisfy itself that Article III, Section 2 permits the exercise of jurisdiction and that Congress has not, by statute, negated ...


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