Finley v. United States

490 U.S. 545, 109 S. Ct. 2003 (1989)



Pendent jurisdiction, in the sense of judicial power, exists whenever there is a claim arising under the United States 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." The requisite relationship exists when the federal and nonfederal claims derive from a common nucleus of operative fact and are such that a plaintiff would ordinarily be expected to try them in one judicial proceeding. 


After her husband and children were killed when their plane struck electric power lines and crashed on its approach to a city-run airfield in San Diego. She filed a state court action.  Upon discovering that respondent government was also partly responsible, she filed a district court action against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U. S. C. § 1346(b), claiming that the Federal Aviation Administration had been negligent in its operation and maintenance of runway lights and in its performance of air traffic control functions. Petitioner subsequently moved to amend her complaint to add state tortlaw claims against both the city and the utility company that maintained the power lines.  On petitioner's motion, the district court allowed her to include claims against defendants over whom the federal courts would not otherwise have had jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed in an interlocutory appeal. The widow appealed.


Can the district court assert pendent jurisdiction over the state-court defendants? 




The court affirmed the judgment holding that the district court could not assert jurisdiction over parties who were not otherwise subject to federal jurisdiction in petitioner widow's action against respondent government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Pendent jurisdiction was not available because the FTCA conferred federal jurisdiction only over civil actions on claims against the United States. Since it expressed no intention to include jurisdiction over other parties, pendent-party jurisdiction was not available over claims against the government.

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