October 5, 2008
28 USC 1367
Each year, I teach supplemental jurisdiction as part of my civil procedure class, and each year I run into the Supreme Court's dicta in Exxon v. Appalatah (sp). In that case, the question was if one plaintiff met the minimum amount in controversy, and another plaintiff did not, but both plaintiffs were diverse from the defendant, did supplemental jurisdiction exist? The court held that it did: under the literal terms of 1367(a), there was original jurisdiction over the first plaintiff's claim, and because the second plaintiff's claim arose out of the same case/controversy as the first, the second plaintiff's claim was within 1367(a) and, because it was not against a party joined under Rule 20 (or any rule, for that matter), the claim was not excluded by 1367(b).
And the Court was right.
The Court, though, wrote more about an issue it wasn't facing than it did about the issue it was: what if one plaintiff is diverse and meets the minimum amount in controversy, and the second plaintiff meets the amount in controversy, but was not diverse from the defendant. In extremely long opinions, the court said that 1367(a) would not even be an issue because the second plaintiff's citizenship would "pollute" or "contaminate" the first plaintiff's, and there would be no original jurisdiction at all.
Maybe under 1332 that is the right analysis, but each time I read 1367, I come to precisely the opposite conclusion: by its own terms, 1367(a) gives courts jurisdiction over joinder of parties when joinder is not within 1332.
Anyhow, it drives me nuts. I've read the cases on it, and the law review articles, and they all come up with really neat theories, all of which ignore the language of the supplemental jurisdiction statute, and none of whcih can be harmonized with the holding in Exxon, other than "pollution," which, imho, is a concept that has nothing to do with 1367.
Anyhow, you now know what I'm in the midst of teaching... again!
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