Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

HORTON v. BALDWIN

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


June 7, 1989

ROSILIND HORTON, Plaintiff,
v.
KAREN ANITA BALDWIN, Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff, v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Third-Party Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY

MEMORANDUM OPINION OF JUDGE

 CHARLES R. RICHEY

 This action is again before the Court following the District of Columbia's withdrawal of its consent to a trial before Magistrate Dwyer. Although the Court is at a loss to understand the District's rationale for doing so, it appears that the District consistently opposes referral of matters to the Magistrates of this Court. Thus, the consent entered here ran contrary to the District's policy, and was withdrawn. The action is one for damages arising out of an automobile accident, alleged to have been the product of a faulty intersection signal.

 At the most recent status call, the parties noted the existence of a potential jurisdictional problem. The defendant Baldwin has sought to file separate third-party complaints against the District under Fed. R. Civ. P. 14. The first seeks indemnification and/or contribution against any liability Baldwin might incur on the principal claim. The second seeks separate damages for Baldwin's own injuries. The problem, to the extent one exists, arises from the fact that the District of Columbia is not a "citizen" amenable to suit in a federal diversity action. See Long v. District of Columbia, 261 U.S. App. D.C. 1, 820 F.2d 409, 412-414 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

 This complication moved the Court to seek briefing on the viability, in this lawsuit, of Baldwin's claims against the District. Specifically, the Court ordered Baldwin to show cause as to why her third-party complaints against the District should not be dismissed. The Court has considered Baldwin's response to this order, as well the District's reply. The Court concludes that Baldwin may maintain each of her two third-party complaints against the District in this action.

 Indeed, the District does not dispute that Baldwin may maintain her third-party action for indemnification and/or contribution in this suit. The District concedes dicta in Long providing that, in the context of that case, the original defendant (PEPCO) could have impleaded the District under Rule 14 in an effort to obtain indemnification. Long, 820 F.2d at 417. *fn1" PEPCO could have done so in Long despite the fact that the original plaintiff lacked the ability to sue the District directly in federal court, and despite the fact that PEPCO could not have brought a subsequent indemnity action against the District in federal court. Id.

 Although the Long court declined to elaborate upon the reasoning underlying this dicta, it undoubtedly concluded that such a third-party impleader action against the District would fall within the trial court's ancillary jurisdiction. See, e.g., Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 57 L. Ed. 2d 274, 98 S. Ct. 2396 (1978)(discussion of concept of ancillary jurisdiction). Thus, by agreeing that Long controls Baldwin's claim for indemnity and/or contribution, the District implicitly concedes as well that her claim for such relief falls within this Court's ancillary jurisdiction.

 This concession, however, also effectively disposes of the District's opposition to Baldwin's second claim, which, as noted above, seeks independent damages against the District for her own injuries. If, on the one hand, this Court's ancillary jurisdiction extends to Baldwin's claim for indemnification and/or contribution, despite the fact that the District is not suable in diversity, the District cannot, on the other hand, parlay this "immunity" into a bar to Baldwin's claim for her own damages arising out of the same transaction. The District's citation to Long's holding that the District is not suable in diversity is thus inapposite -- if this were a bar, the Court would lack ancillary jurisdiction over Baldwin's claim for indemnification and/or contribution as well.

 It clearly does not; and the reasons supporting its jurisdiction over the indemnification claim are precisely those which establish the Court's ancillary jurisdiction over Baldwin's claim for damages. *fn2" Baldwin's claim for damages, as does her indemnification claim, arise out of the same nucleus of operative fact which caused Horton to file the complaint in the first place. Thus, all of the claims in this action involve the same Article III "case," so that the Court's exercise of ancillary jurisdiction does not run afoul of constitutional limitations. See Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545, 104 L. Ed. 2d 593, 109 S. Ct. 2003, 57 U.S.L.W. 4557-58 (1989)(nonfederal claim must arise from same constitutional "case" giving rise to federal claim in order for federal court to enjoy jurisdictional "power" over nonfederal claim); Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725, 16 L. Ed. 2d 218, 86 S. Ct. 1130 (1966).

 Moreover, as with Baldwin's indemnification claim, the "posture" of her nonfederal claim suggests that the exercise of ancillary jurisdiction would not run afoul of the diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332(a). See Kroger, 437 U.S. at 375-76. Baldwin did not commence this suit; Horton chose the federal forum at the outset of this litigation, and Baldwin should not be forced, merely by virtue of Horton's choice, to stomach the jurisdictional limits of this forum. Id. at 376. The very raison d'etre of ancillary jurisdiction is to permit the resolution of an entire, logically related lawsuit, so long as to do so does not run afoul of congressionally-imposed jurisdictional limits. The "posture" of the nonfederal claims in this case, unlike the "posture" of the plaintiff's claims in Kroger, makes clear to the Court that the assumption of ancillary jurisdiction over Baldwin's damages claim would subvert neither the intent of the diversity statute nor the holding of the Court of Appeals in Long.3

  For the foregoing reasons, the Court concludes that it has jurisdiction to consider the defendant Baldwin's claims against the District for indemnification and/or contribution as well as to consider her complaint for damages against the District. *fn4"

 ORDER - June 7, 1989, Filed

 In accordance with the Memorandum Opinion issued of even date herewith in the above-captioned matter, it is, by the Court, this 7th day of June, 1989,

 ORDERED, that the defendant Baldwin's response to the Court's order to show cause as to why her complaints against the District of Columbia should not be dismissed shall be treated as a request for permission to join, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 18, her complaint for damages against the District of Columbia with her complaint for indemnification and/or contribution; and it is further

 ORDERED, that the defendant Baldwin's request shall be, and hereby is, granted.


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.