Law School Case Brief
Aldinger v. Howard - 427 U.S. 1, 96 S. Ct. 2413 (1976)
If the new party sought to be joined is not otherwise subject to federal jurisdiction, there is a more serious obstacle to the exercise of pendent jurisdiction than if parties already before the court are required to litigate a state-law claim. Before it can be concluded that such jurisdiction exists, a federal court must satisfy itself not only that U.S. Const. art. III permits it, but that Congress in the statutes conferring jurisdiction has not expressly or by implication negated its existence
An employee was terminated from her employment with a county. The employee filed an action asserting state and federal claims against the employer. The state-law claim rested on state statutes that waived the employer's sovereign immunity and provided for vicarious liability for the tortious conduct of its officials. The District Court dismissed the action as to the county on the ground that since it was not suable as a "person" under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983, there was no independent basis of jurisdiction over the county and that the court therefore had no power to exercise pendent jurisdiction over the claims against the county. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed on appeal. The employee sought further review in the United States Supreme Court.
Did the federal courts have jurisdiction over plaintiff’s pendent state claim?
On certiorari, the United States Supreme Court affirmed. It was held that (1) pendent federal jurisdiction could be extended to cover jurisdiction over a party for whom no independent basis of federal jurisdiction existed if Article III of the Constitution permitted it and Congress, in the statutes conferring jurisdiction, had not expressly or by implication negated its existence, and (2) although Congress, in 28 U.S.C.S. § 1343, had conferred Article III jurisdiction on Federal District Courts to decide actions brought to redress deprivations of civil rights, Congress had excluded counties from liability under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983, and thus, by reference, in the grant of jurisdiction under 1343(3), so that the joinder of a municipal corporation, like the county, for purposes of asserting a state law claim not within federal diversity jurisdiction, was without the statutory jurisdiction of the District Court.
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