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JOHNS-MANVILLE SALES v. CHICAGO TITLE & TRUST

December 20, 1966

JOHNS-MANVILLE SALES CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, AND MARTIN-MARIETTA CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CHICAGO TITLE AND TRUST COMPANY, A CORPORATION, MARSHALL SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION, AND J. MICHAEL TIERNEY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Campbell, Chief Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I

JURISDICTION

Plaintiff Johns-Manville Sales Corporation predicates jurisdiction on diversity of citizenship. (28 U.S.C.A. § 1332) Plaintiff Martin-Marietta Corporation makes a similar jurisdictional claim, however, in specifically alleging damages Martin-Marietta claims less ($3,298.45) than the required jurisdictional amount — i.e. "* * * the sum or value of $10,000, exclusive of interest and costs * * *". (28 U.S.C.A. § 1332(a))

Martin-Marietta, by brief, urge the applicability of the "ancillary jurisdiction" doctrine. Hurn v. Oursler, 289 U.S. 238, 53 S.Ct. 586, 77 L.Ed. 1148. Briefly restated Martin-Marietta first argues the appropriateness of its joinder as party plaintiff pursuant to Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This argument is well founded in that plaintiff's claims concern common questions of law and fact "* * * arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences * * *". (Rule 20(a)) From this premise the ancillary jurisdiction conclusion is reached.

This is not a typical ancillary jurisdiction situation. We do not have a party-plaintiff whose interest is affected by the court's control of property. Freeman v. Howe, 24 How. 450, 65 U.S. 450, 16 L.Ed. 749. Plaintiff, Martin-Marietta, is not necessary to permit the court to effectuate any judgment it may enter herein. Supreme Tribe of Ben Hur v. Cauble, 255 U.S. 356, 41 S.Ct. 338, 65 L.Ed. 673. Nor do we have the same counterclaim factual situation as was present in Moore v. New York Cotton Exchange, 270 U.S. 593, 46 S.Ct. 367, 70 L.Ed. 750.

A good argument, addressed to efficient judicial administration, could be made that in situations such as this where one plaintiff satisfies the jurisdictional requirement a party otherwise joinable should not be required to institute an independent suit in the state courts. (See: The Federal Jurisdictional Amount Requirement and Joinder of Parties Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 1952, 27 Ind.L.J. 199). This is the same argument and rationale which led to and is the basis of the ancillary jurisdiction decisions. See: United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218; Hurn v. Oursler, 289 U.S. 238, 53 S.Ct. 586; Clark v. Paul Gray Inc., 306 U.S. 583, 59 S.Ct. 744, 83 L.Ed. 1001.

To a limited extent this argument has been accepted: Orn v. Universal Automobile Association of Indiana, D.C., 198 F. Supp. 377, where the court found jurisdiction in the removal statute, § 1441(c); Raybould v. Mancini-Fattore Co., D.C., 186 F. Supp. 235, where a single plaintiff suing in a different capacity aggregated for purposes of satisfying the jurisdictional amount his claims against a single defendant. Admittedly these cases do not decide the present issue. They do, however, lend support to the efficient judicial administration argument.

The weight of authority appears to be to the contrary, most courts holding that although joinder of party-plaintiffs might well be proper under the Rules of Civil Procedure, such a joinder does not per se satisfy statutory jurisdictional requirements. Hackner v. Guaranty Trust Co. of New York, 2 Cir., 117 F.2d 95, cert. den. 313 U.S. 559, 61 S.Ct. 835, 85 L.Ed. 1520; Aetna Insurance Co. v. Chicago R.I. and P.R. Co., 10 Cir., 229 F.2d 584; Jewell v. Grain Dealers Mutual Insurance Co., 5 Cir., 290 F.2d 11; Diana v. Canada Dry Corp., D.C., 189 F. Supp. 280; Diepen v. Fernow, D.C., 1 F.R.D. 378.

Joinder, governed by the Civil Rules, must necessarily be distinguished from statutory jurisdictional requirements. It does not follow that where joinder is proper ancillary jurisdiction necessarily attaches. Further, it is well settled that multipe plaintiffs cannot aggregate damage claims to satisfy the jurisdictional amount. Thomson v. Gaskill, 315 U.S. 442, 62 S.Ct. 673, 86 L.Ed. 951.

However, this is not an aggregation situation. One plaintiff (Johns-Manville Sales Corporation) satisfactorily pleads federal jurisdiction without reference to its co-plaintiff.

Were the court to dismiss the remaining co-plaintiff's claim, the co-plaintiff would be relegated to the state court. Separate trials in separate courts involving common questions of law and fact arising out of the same transaction and directed against the same defendant would result. Such a result runs contrary to the judicial economy, convenience and fairness to litigants rationale supporting ancillary jurisdiction decisions. On the other hand, neither the federal jurisdictional statutes nor the prohibition against aggregating of amounts claimed is vitiated by permitting a properly joined co-plaintiff to remain in federal court. Jurisdiction in such situations does not come from the joinder Rules, but rather, as is the theory in ancillary jurisdiction cases, from the fact that a plaintiff is, without the necessity of joinder, properly before the court. The jurisdictional requirements having been met by one plaintiff, those properly joined should be permitted to litigate their claims in the same action.

The reasons and underlying considerations behind the jurisdictional amount requirement further indicate a resolution of this issue in favor of permitting the joined plaintiff's claim to remain along with the claim of the plaintiff over whom the court's jurisdiction clearly attaches. The jurisdictional amount requirement, as most limitations on federal jurisdiction, was intended to reduce the burden on federal courts and to avoid further encroachments on state courts. These purposes are in no way disserved by retaining the additional plaintiff in this case. This court must try this case in its entirety, with or without the presence of the additional plaintiff. Inclusion of the additional plaintiff's claim could in no way substantially increase the burden of this court in this case. Secondly, rather than being an encroachment, the disposition of this claim would be a service to the generally overburdened state court. The state could would be relieved from trying the lesser of two identical claims.

Basically law is common sense. Paraphrasing the late Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Edward Douglass White, whenever a rule of law does not make common sense it should not be followed. It is unthinkable under our present advanced state of judicial administration to require the same case be tried separately in two different courts. Duplicitous expenses and an unjustifiable imposition on an already overtaxed judicial system run contrary to ...


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