pendent party jurisdiction governs our analysis.
The court finds that Middletown's third-party complaint constitutes a separate action commenced after December 1, 1990 triggering the jurisdictional provisions of § 1367. Middletown's third-party complaint was filed in June 1991, well after the effective date of the statute. To avoid undue hardships to defendants, we will follow the guidance of other courts in this district and view such third-party claims as an independent "action" for purposes of § 1367's effective date. See In Re Joint E. & So. Dist. Asbestos Litigation, 769 F.Supp. 85, 87 (E. & S.D.N.Y. 1991). A contrary interpretation would handicap defendants who have been unwillingly brought into court with jurisdictional restrictions that unnecessarily hamper their ability to protect their interests and fully resolve their disputes in a single forum.
Since we find that § 1367 applies to Middletown's third-party complaint, we turn to the question of whether this court possesses jurisdiction over its claims against Movie Center. The limits of supplemental jurisdiction under § 1367 are the constitutional limits of subject-matter jurisdiction under Article III of the United States Constitution. The state claims must be "part of the case or controversy" under which the federal claim falls. State and federal claims form one case or controversy when they derive from a common nucleus of operative facts or when both claims would normally be expected to be tried in a single judicial proceeding. United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725, 16 L. Ed. 2d 218, 86 S. Ct. 1130 (1966). In these circumstances, the court's exercise of pendent jurisdiction, although not automatic, would be a favored and normal course of action. Promisel v. First American Artificial Flowers, 943 F.2d 251, 254 (2nd Cir. 1991). The federal claim involved in this case is a § 1983 claim relating to alleged violations of Mr. Bruce's constitutional rights to life and liberty stemming from the incident at Cinema 10 and his subsequent death.
Defendant Middletown, as an employer of the two police officers involved in Mr. Bruce's death, has been sued by plaintiff for negligent acts that purportedly caused the wrongful death of Mr. Bruce. Resolution of the plaintiff's claims depends in part upon such issues as what actions were taken by defendants Simpson and Warycka and whether they occurred in the course of their employment. If, at the time of the incident, the officers were acting in their capacity as private security guards at the Cinema 10 theatre, they might be found to have been actual employees of third-party defendant Movie Center. In that case, defendant Middletown could assert a claim for contribution or indemnification against Movie Center for its alleged negligence in providing improper security that caused or contributed to Mr. Bruce's death. Consequently, Middletown's claims against the Movie Center are inextricably bound up with the factual issues associated with Mr. Bruce's death underlying plaintiff's § 1983 claim.
As Movie Center correctly notes, the exercise of pendent jurisdiction by courts is purely a matter of discretion, informed by considerations of judicial economy, convenience, and fairness to litigants. Id. at 726; Town of West Hartford v. Operation Rescue, 915 F.2d 92, 104 (2nd Cir. 1990) (quoting Perez v. Ortiz, 849 F.2d 793, 798 (2nd Cir. 1988)). These considerations have been codified in § 1367(c) which states:
The district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim under subsection (a) if--
(1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law,
(2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or claims over which the district court has original jurisdiction,
(3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction, or
(4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling reasons for declining jurisdiction.
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). Here, the state law claims included in Middletown's third-party complaint involve, if the motion to amend is granted, claims for indemnification and contribution stemming from Movie Center's alleged negligence in causing the death of Mr. Bruce. These claims for contribution and indemnification do not involve novel or overly complex issues of state law but rather common tort liability issues. Moreover, since both a § 1983 claim and state tort claims derive from the same purported injuries relating to Mr. Bruce's death, the court cannot say that the state claims will substantially predominate. Finally, the court has not dismissed the § 1983 claim that forms the basis of federal jurisdiction in this case and no exceptional circumstances exist compelling refusal to hear the state claims. Therefore, none of the exceptions included within § 1367(c) apply in this case meriting dismissal of Middletown's third-party claims.
The third-party claims will likely turn on whether the defendant police officers were acting as employees of defendant Middletown or third-party defendant Movie Center. Tort indemnity, by definition, is necessarily contingent upon the outcome of the § 1983 claim and stems from the same alleged wrongs. Ultimately, any recovery for plaintiff will depend upon a resolution of both the § 1983 claim and Middletown's claims against the Movie Center. Thus, both judicial efficiency and practical necessity support the exercise of pendent jurisdiction over the third-party claims here. Other courts, facing state wrongful death and negligence claims associated with a § 1983 claim, have reached similar conclusions in exercising pendent jurisdiction. See, e.g., Rosen v. Chang, 758 F.Supp. 799 (D.R.I. 1991).
To conclude, the court holds that the jurisdictional provisions of § 1367 apply to Middletown's third-party action and permit the court to exercise pendent party jurisdiction over Middletown's claims against Movie Center for contribution and indemnification. The exercise of jurisdiction over these interdependent claims will enable the court to best reach a complete resolution of this case. Thus, the court denies Movie Center's motion to dismiss the third-party complaint. Further, the court grants Middletown's motion to amend its third-party complaint to add a claim for indemnification against Movie Center.
Dated: January 8, 1992.
White Plains, New York
GERALD L. GOETTEL