Supplemental Jurisdiction
February 16, 2006 10:32 AM   Subscribe

28 U.S.C 1367 was a controversial and confusing attempt by Congress to codify and address the issue of Supplemental Jurisdiction established in cases such as United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715 (1966), Zahn v. International Paper, Co., 414 U.S. 291 (1973), and Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545 (1989). The Supreme Court tried to clarify some of the confusing issues regarding 1367 in a 2005 opinion. Exxon Mobil Corp v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., (2005) (Kennedy, J., writing for the Court) (Stevens, J., dissenting) (Ginsburg, J., dissenting). The question of whether the Court clarified the issue or made it more complicated remains arguably unanswered.
posted by dios (25 comments total)
Here is a good explanation of Pendent Jurisdiction.
posted by dios at 10:34 AM on February 16, 2006

dios, a short explanation in plain English would be much appreciated.
posted by three blind mice at 10:38 AM on February 16, 2006

Posts like this make me realize law is the perfect field for aging Dungeon Masters.
posted by bardic at 10:40 AM on February 16, 2006

tbm, here [pdf] is a very good short summary of what the Exxon decision means.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:45 AM on February 16, 2006

Muchos gracias, monju_bosatsu.

Interesting. Thanks dios for putting this up. I wouldn't have known about it otherwise.
posted by three blind mice at 10:53 AM on February 16, 2006

These FPPs just might interest me if there were a short summary in plain english as to what the issue was and how it was resolved.

Yes, I'm lazy.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:55 AM on February 16, 2006

Wow, it's like a self-derail.
posted by orthogonality at 10:57 AM on February 16, 2006

Wow, it's like a self-derail.
posted by orthogonality at 12:57 PM CST on February 16

What are you talking about? Do you even know?
posted by dios at 11:04 AM on February 16, 2006

Does this mean that Grisham will stop writing crap about the King of Torts?
posted by fleacircus at 11:07 AM on February 16, 2006

The Supplemental Jurisdiction link was clearest for me as a non-legal type, although the language in the case documents remained impenetrable. I'm interested by what I do comprehend, though.
posted by boo_radley at 11:08 AM on February 16, 2006

What are you talking about? Do you even know?

I think what orthogonality means, dios, that of the first four links, three were to 20+ page pdfs. It's not so much of a derail as it is a heavy load for my weak intellectual engine to pull out of the station. It's a well-researched and well-supported FPP, but the headline and teaser could have been a bit more pedestrian.
posted by three blind mice at 11:11 AM on February 16, 2006

On review, sorry dios, I mean is that this is Metafilter. You of all people should know how to push the blue buttons.

To wit, from page 2 of monju's link:

The ramifications of the Exxon and the CAFA are likely to be favorable for corporations defending multi-plaintiff lawsuits.


That ought to get 'em up and running. Proceed.
posted by three blind mice at 11:16 AM on February 16, 2006

bardic: "Posts like this make me realize law is the perfect field for aging Dungeon Masters."

Souter: Let's go into the cave.
Scalia: What are you, an idiot? Don't you remember last time you ran off half-cocked?
Souter: Fuck you, Tony, I'm going into the cave.
Roberts: Roll 1d20.
Souter: *Rolls a 1*
Roberts: You are eaten by a Grue.
posted by Plutor at 11:23 AM on February 16, 2006

dios writes "What are you talking about? Do you even know?"

What I mean is, dios, is that all of us who are any sort of specialists at all could produce an FPP on a subtle issue within our specialty (e.g. "Object ownership and creation issues, value objects, and pointer aliasing: a comparison of, and explication for, the subtly different approaches of C++ and Java, and the practical consequences thereof"; "Null, column null, and row null in ANSI SQL and related implications for inner join members within outer joins including different strategies employed by Sybase, Oracle, and Microsoft, and universal work-arounds using views"; "Protected and private inheritance: uses in C++, absence from Java; and implications for Java collection classes.")

And these would all be interesting topics to the initiated, to the specialists in that particular field. But they'd have little relevance to anyone outside that field, unless the FPP included enough context to make them relevant and interesting to non-specialists.

(Yes, the example subjects are all real ones, and ones I could probably rattle off an FPP on; I didn't just make them up.)
posted by orthogonality at 11:25 AM on February 16, 2006

Still trying to understand: The US Supreme Court has made it much harder to bring a class action lawsuit in the States by significantly raising the bar on minimum damages AND requiring that all plaintiffs live in different states. This will mostly benefit large corporations.

Is that a fair summary?
posted by bonehead at 11:36 AM on February 16, 2006

Plutor, I'd like to think Souter is smart enough to at least buff himself a bit before entering. He probably walked right into an AoO!
posted by bardic at 11:36 AM on February 16, 2006

man, this shit is exactly why i quit law school. why must it follow me to metafilter?
posted by Hat Maui at 11:41 AM on February 16, 2006

oh god, not another one of these fucking things.
posted by rxrfrx at 11:46 AM on February 16, 2006

So in an oversimplified nutshell, the Supreme Court ruled over when and where lower Federal courts have jurisdiction as opposed to State courts below them, but the outcome was just vague enough that in the perceived simplifications, there may have been deeper complications than were there in the first place?

What I'm getting from this is that the average person may consider matters of jurisdiction to be fairly irrelevant, but the opinions and appointments of various courts could mean that this realignment of jurisdiction could change the outcome of not just certain cases, but certain types of cases.

Of course, I'm no law student, let alone professional. Anyone with a bit more knowledge able to tell me if I'm reading this right? It's nice to see important intellectual discussion here, but specialized fields can be harsh on those without at least passing knowledge.
posted by Saydur at 11:59 AM on February 16, 2006

The US Supreme Court has made it much harder to bring a class action lawsuit in the States by significantly raising the bar on minimum damages AND requiring that all plaintiffs live in different states. This will mostly benefit large corporations.
Is that a fair summary?

No. Roughly speaking, federal courts only have jurisdiction in cases in which (1) there is a federal issue, or (2) the parties are diverse, meaning that the plaintiffs are from different states than the defendants. The traditional rule requires complete diversity, meaning that every plaintiff must be from a different state than every defendant. If even one of the plaintiffs lives in the same state as a defendant, diversity is destroyed and, absent a federal issue, a federal court will not have jurisdiction to consider the claim.

However, in 1990, Congress passed a law, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1367, which clarifies, or at least attempts to clarify, the concept of supplemental jurisdiction. The most common application of supplemental jurisdiction is to state law claims. For example, consider a case where Plaintiff, a resident of Texas, sues Defendant, also a resident of Texas, for securities fraud and breach of contract in state court in Texas. Securities fraud is a federal cause of action, and so Defendant removes the action from federal court to state court. Plaintiff, however, argues that the contract claim should not be removed, because it is not a federal issue, and because there is no diversity between the parties. The supplemental jurisdiction statute, however, allows the court to exercise jurisdiction over state law claims where it has already exercised jurisdiction over federal claims in the same case. Because the federal court in my example already has jurisdiction over the securities fraud claims, it can also exercise jurisdiction over the contract claims, despite the lack of diversity.

The question gets a little trickier when the court seeks to exercise supplemental jurisdiction not over claims, but over parties. In the Exxon case, plaintiffs brought a class action case against Exxon asserting state law claims. Although there was apparently no federal issue, the lead plaintiff--the plaintiff under whose name the suit was brought--resided in a different state, and therefore, the federal court had diversity jurisdiction over the claims of the lead plaintiff. But what about the other class members, some of whom resided in the same state as Exxon? The Supreme Court concluded that § 1367 allowed the court to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over those claims, even where no diversity existed, because the court had jurisdiction over the lead plaintiff.

The result of the decisions is that federal courts have jurisdiction over a larger category of class actions involving state law claims than they would have otherwise. Most plaintiffs like to bring their state-law claims in state court, while corporations like to remove those cases to federal court where they perceive a better chance of prevailing. This decision means that defendants will be able to remove a larger class of cases than had the Supreme Court decided otherwise.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:01 PM on February 16, 2006

I should note that most law students and lawyers have only a vague understanding of how supplemental jurisdiction works, so I'm not surprised by the confusion here.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:07 PM on February 16, 2006

Fantastic summary monju_bosatsu.

So let me spin this properly:

*Puts on Rush Limbaugh voice, gains 200 pounds, pops some oxycontin.*

Ladies and gentlemen what we have here is a decision reflecting the sanity that is OUR new Supreme Court.

*Take deep draw of breath because I haven't learned how to speak properly into the mike - just like Limbaugh*

*Rattles paper in hands*

The strict contructionists on the Supreme Court have made it so that, corporations, the powerhouse of the free market and the economic engines of the American dream, will face fewer harassing lawsuits from greedy liberal lawyers.

*Drops Limbaugh impression. Washes hands, gargles with Listerine, still feels dirty.*

Is that about right?
posted by three blind mice at 12:17 PM on February 16, 2006

Not an attorney, but I find this oddly interesting. Pet Peeve of mine: Credit card companies. Common practice now to include inserts for magazine subscriptions in the billing statements. If you are an idiot like me, and ever subscribed to a magazine in this manner, you may have had an unpleasant surprise when you attempted to cancel the subscription. Common sense attempt, I called the magazine to cancel. They said fine, we will. Next year, however, that same charge is back on the credit card statement. Call the credit card company to cancel. They say they can't. The subscription is handled by a 3rd party, contracted by the magazine. You have to call them to cancel. (cause despite whatever you say, the credit card views it as a legitimate charge) Their is a phone number, but it leads to a labyrinthian message service. Eventually I get through, they too agree to cancel. Unfortunately, next year, that same charge is on the card again. Next course of action, just cancel the card. Now here is where it gets really fun. When that subscription month rolls around again, guess what? The card was reissued in my name, with the magazine subscription charge. I am not the only person I know of to whom this has happened, so I am assuming that this is a wide spread industry practice. I could be wrong about that, maybe I am just unlucky. The other person I know of did manage to get their charges cancelled with a lot more phone calls and bitching. It apparently helps if you know someone in your state's Consumer Protection agency. I gave up and have resigned myself to an unending subscription to National Geographic. No one I know of would bother filing a lawsuit against a multinational banking corporation for a $15 claim ($30 now). It always seemed to me, however, that this should be a slam dunk gold mine for some law firm willing to pursue a class action. I am guessing the reason this hasn't happened is that no individual affected could claim injuries sufficient to meet the $75,000 threshold. Perhaps Dios or Monju could comment.
posted by MetalDog at 1:22 PM on February 16, 2006

Wow, MetalDog, breathtaking derail.

Dios, your defining link couldn't even decide whether it's "supplemental" or "supplementary" jurisdiction. I'm not surprised keen legal minds are confused. I certainly was. The concept is simple, but, like most legal concepts, the devil is in the details.

Just another reminder why Cheney decided to point his gun at Whittington.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:40 PM on February 16, 2006

Dios, thank you for bringing a great subject to our attention. It's too bad you didn't highlight the Intro. to judicial concepts link more for us laymen.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:42 PM on February 16, 2006

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