Ortiz v. United States Gov't

595 F.2d 65 (1st Cir. 1979)

 

RULE:

Under the Gibbs standard, a district court has power under Article III to hear a nonfederal claim if that claim and the federal claim derive from a common nucleus of operative fact and if the federal claim is of sufficient substance to confer jurisdiction on the court.

FACTS:

Upon exhausting their administrative remedies, 28 U.S.C. § 2675, Ramonita Ortiz, et al. sued the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-80, alleging that on January 21, 1973 appellants' decedent was taken to the Veterans Hospital in San Juan where the employees and agents of that hospital, "failing to diagnose the seriousness of the condition, did not hospitalize or treat him, but at his wife's insistence, referred him to Mimiya Clinic for hospitalization with a diagnosis of "malaria attack.' " Thereafter he allegedly was not given proper treatment and by the time, three days later, that he was returned to the V.A. Hospital he had allegedly sustained "permanent, irreparable damage." Appellants also contend that the V.A. Hospital's "referral (to Mimiya) was an authorization for admission under Veterans Administration's instructions." The decedent, in any event, steadily declined until he died one and one-half years later. After suit was brought, the government filed a third-party complaint against third-party defendant hospital, seeking indemnification from any liability that was assessed against it. Plaintiffs then sought to amend their complaint to assert a negligence claim directly against the hospital. The district court denied plaintiffs' request, finding that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the claim. On appeal, the court reversed and remanded the order.

ISSUE:

Does the district court have the jurisdiciton to hear a nonfederal claim?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court directed the district court to determine whether the facts were such that the pendent claim met the Gibbs Article III test of deriving from a common nucleus of operative fact. If the district court determined that it did, the court directed that it was to determine whether, as a matter of sound discretion, it would be advisable to exercise its jurisdiction over the claim.

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