Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

U.S. A & N CLEANERS & LAUNDERERS

September 20, 1990

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
A & N CLEANERS & LAUNDERERS, INC., BEN FORCUCCI, MARINE MIDLAND BANK, N.A., JORDAN W. BERKMAN, JOHN A. PETRILLO, JOSEPH CURTO AND MARIO CURTO, DEFENDANTS. MARINE MIDLAND BANK, N.A., THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF, V. ST. PAUL FIRE AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY, ST. PAUL MERCURY INSURANCE COMPANY, UTICA MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, THE NORTH RIVER INSURANCE COMPANY, UNITED STATES FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, District Judge.

OPINION

Third-party defendant Utica Mutual Insurance Company ("Utica") has moved to dismiss the third-party claim of third-party plaintiff Marine Midland Bank, N.A. ("the Bank") for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.*fn1 Because the claim falls within the court's pendent party jurisdiction, the motion is denied.

The Facts

The United States filed the underlying complaint on October 16, 1989, seeking recovery under § 107 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), 42 U.S.C. § 9607 (as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, Pub.L.No. 99-499, 100 Stat. 1613), for costs incurred to clean up toxic chemicals allegedly released by the defendant A & N Cleaners & Launderers, Inc. ("A & N") which are suspected of having contaminated the groundwater supply for the community of Brewster, New York.*fn2 The Bank is made a defendant under CERCLA as the operator of the premises from which the chemicals were allegedly released.

On February 16, 1990, the Bank, a New York corporation, brought a third-party action against its insurers, including Utica, seeking indemnification for any losses suffered in the primary suit. According to the Bank, third-party defendants Utica and United States Fire Insurance Company ("U.S. Fire") are New York corporations, while the other third-party defendants, St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company, St. Paul Mercury Insurance Company, and North River Insurance Company are all citizens of other states.

Utica asserts that there is no independent basis for federal jurisdiction over the Bank's claim against it, and that any assertion of ancillary or pendent party jurisdiction must fail in light of Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545, 109 S.Ct. 2003, 104 L.Ed.2d 593 (1989). Therefore, Utica seeks to have the Bank's claim dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.*fn3

Discussion

It is axiomatic that every cause of action in a federal court must have a jurisdictional basis. An assertion of federal jurisdiction must meet both a constitutional and a statutory standard: the claim must first of all be within the scope of Article III, and Congress must have exercised its constitutional authority to confer jurisdiction on the federal courts. See Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 372, 98 S.Ct. 2396, 2401-02, 57 L.Ed.2d 274 (1978).

In the present case, since all of the Banks's third-party claims are based on state law, there is no federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Nor is there diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, because the Bank and Utica (and U.S. Fire) are all citizens of New York. The only basis for federal jurisdiction over these claims is the doctrine of "pendent party" jurisdiction, as claims which are related to the underlying CERCLA complaint.

Pendent jurisdiction in general is an exception to the strict requirement of explicit statutory authorization for federal jurisdiction. It permits the court to extend its reach beyond the limits set by Congress, provided that it remains within the boundaries of Article III.

  Pendent 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."

United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 1138, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966) (emphasis, brackets, and ellipsis in original). The required relationship exists if the state and federal claims "derive from a common nucleus of operative fact." Id. However, the existence of the required relationship between the claims does not end the inquiry, for


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.