to the objectives underlying this act. Commonwealth by Creamer v. Monumental Properties, Inc., 459 Pa. 450, 329 A.2d 812, 816-17 (1974).
The position urged by the defendant in this case runs contrary to this principal. The defendant asks us to take a narrow view of the term ascertainable loss and require that the plaintiff plead a specific ascertainable loss of money or property in order to maintain a cause of action under this act. Such an interpretation of this language would severely undercut the remedial framework established by this statute. It would, in effect, limit the class of plaintiffs to those individuals who could show specific liquidated damages as a result of an unfair trade practice.
We feel that the ascertainable loss requirement of this act is designed merely to insure that individuals bringing suit have in fact been damaged by a deceptive trade practice. In this case we feel that the plaintiff has pleaded sufficient facts to demonstrate an actual injury to herself. The plaintiff alleges that she and her father purchased two tickets with TWA as a result of TWA's advertisements offering a special non-stop Pittsburgh to London fare. Plaintiff further contends that she has never received the specific service advertised by TWA. Plaintiff argues that the advertisement which induced her to purchase these tickets was deceptive and misleading. Therefore, plaintiff has pleaded sufficient facts to demonstrate that she falls within the class of people injured by TWA's deceptive advertising. Accordingly, we believe that the plaintiff can maintain a private action under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Law. 73 Pa.S.A. § 201-9.2(a).
Because the plaintiff has pleaded a set of facts which could sustain a valid cause of action under Pennsylvania statutory and common law, we must deny defendant's motion for summary judgment on Counts II and IV of the plaintiff's complaint.
Having dismissed Counts I and III of the plaintiff's complaint we must now consider whether this court can retain jurisdiction over the remaining issues in this law suit. Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. In the exercise of this jurisdiction the district court is subject to statutory and constitutional constraints. Therefore, a district court may entertain jurisdiction over an action only within constitutional limits, and then only when such jurisdiction is expressly or impliedly granted to it by act of Congress. Moreover subject matter jurisdiction is a necessary prerequisite to any action brought in the federal court. Without such jurisdiction the district court is powerless to act.
Because subject matter jurisdiction goes to the very power of the court to hear a law suit we have an independent duty to determine that jurisdiction is properly vested with this court. We may, therefore, raise the question of subject matter jurisdiction on our own motion. Louisville & Nashville Railroad v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 29 S. Ct. 42, 53 L. Ed. 126 (1908); see, 1 Moore's Federal Practice P 0.60(4) at 628-630 (1982).
Generally speaking federal district courts have subject matter jurisdiction over two types of disputes. The first ground of federal jurisdiction consists of cases arising under the constitution, laws and treaties of the United States. This is typically referred to as federal question jurisdiction. In addition the district court has jurisdiction over disputes between citizens of two or more different states. Federal jurisdiction founded on diversity of citizenship is limited by statute, however, to cases "where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $ 10,000 exclusive of interest and costs ...". 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
In this case we feel that the action we take today eliminates federal question jurisdiction as a basis for the removal of the plaintiff's complaint from state court. As we read plaintiff's complaint only Count I, which alleges a violation of the Warsaw Convention, clearly states a cause of action arising under the laws or treaties of the United States. We have concluded above that there is no merit to this count of the plaintiff's complaint. Accordingly our dismissal of Count I of the plaintiff's complaint divests this court of any federal question jurisdiction in this matter.
Nor do we feel that this court can retain jurisdiction over this case on the basis of diversity of citizenship. At the outset we note that diversity was not pleaded by the defendant as a ground for the removal of this case. Nor does the plaintiff's complaint, on its face, reveal that the plaintiff and defendant are residents of different states. In fact, none of the pleadings filed in this matter reflect the diversity of citizenship necessary for the exercise of jurisdiction by this court.
But even if the plaintiff and defendant were residents of different states, this fact alone would not justify the exercise of jurisdiction by this court. Federal diversity jurisdiction extends only to those cases where the amount in controversy exceeds $ 10,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. In this case we do not believe that the plaintiff can demonstrate damages sufficient to meet this jurisdictional threshold.
In her complaint the plaintiff claims both actual and punitive damages. At the outset we question whether plaintiff can prove any damage at all in the face of the reasonable alternatives offered by TWA at the time of this schedule change. But even if we assume that the plaintiff could prove some actual damages in this case, those damages would be limited to the purchase price of her ticket, $ 499. Plaintiff has not pleaded any facts which would support a further award of compensatory damages and, in fact, she is precluded by TWA's tariffs from seeking any further compensatory damages. Therefore the plaintiff's actual damages in this matter would fall far short of the amount required for the exercise of federal jurisdiction.
The plaintiff's complaint also contains a prayer for punitive damages. While punitive damages may be considered in determining whether a claim meets the jurisdictional threshold, a trial court is not compelled to accept a claim of punitive damages made to confer federal jurisdiction. Zahn v. International Paper Co., 469 F.2d 1033-34, n.1 (2d Cir. 1972); Gray v. Occidental Life Ins. Co. of California, 387 F.2d 935 (3d Cir. 1968); Ehrenfeld v. Webber, 499 F. Supp. 1283, 1292 (D.Me.1980). Rather the district court has wide discretion in evaluating punitive damage claims which provide a basis for federal jurisdiction.
In this case we do not believe that the plaintiff's claim of punitive damages is sufficient to support the exercise of jurisdiction by this court. The remaining counts of the plaintiff's complaint allege that TWA engaged in fraudulent trade practices in violation of Pennsylvania statutory and common law. With respect to the statutory claim, the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Law defines the limits on recoverable damages. That section permits recovery of "actual damages or $ 100, whichever is greater." The act then authorizes the court to "award up to three times the actual damages sustained" in appropriate cases. 73 Pa.S.A. § 201-9.2(a). In this case even if we trebled the plaintiff's actual damages of $ 499 we would still fall far short of the amount necessary for federal diversity jurisdiction. Therefore, this statutory claim, by itself, is insufficient to establish federal jurisdiction in this matter.
As for the plaintiff's common law fraud claim, under Pennsylvania law the mere allegation of fraud is not sufficient to justify an award of punitive damages. Golomb v. Korus, 261 Pa.Super. 344, 396 A.2d 430 (1978). Such damages are recoverable only upon a showing of extreme aggravating circumstances. Long v. McAllister, 275 Pa. 34, 118 A. 506 (1922). Moreover when punitive damages are sought from a corporation as a result of conduct of its agents and employees, that conduct must be clearly outrageous in order to justify an award. Skeels v. Universal C.I.T. Credit Corporation, 335 F.2d 846, 852 (3d Cir. 1964), (applying Pennsylvania law). Pennsylvania law also requires that punitive damages bear a reasonable relationship to actual damages. Therefore, an award of punitive damages cannot be disproportionate to compensatory damages. Golomb v. Korus, 261 Pa.Super. 344, 396 A.2d 430 (1978); Chuy v. Philadelphia Eagles Football Club, 595 F.2d 1265 (3d Cir. 1979).
In this case we feel that the plaintiff's compensatory damages can amount to no more than $ 499. Therefore, in order for the plaintiff to meet the jurisdictional threshold, we would have to conclude that she was entitled to punitive damages of more than $ 9,500. This we cannot do. Given the very limited scope of the plaintiff's actual loss in this case, we feel that an award of punitive damages sufficient to meet the federal jurisdictional requirements would be grossly disproportionate. Therefore, such punitive damages would not be recoverable under Pennsylvania law.
Finally we do not feel that the doctrine of pendant jurisdiction justifies any further consideration of the remaining counts of the plaintiff's complaint. Admittedly a federal district court has broad discretion to consider pendant state law claims when those claims are intimately related to a cause of action properly brought in federal court. This discretion is not unlimited, however. In exercising this discretion it is clear that "if it appears that the federal claim is subject to dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or could be disposed of on a motion for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, then the court should ordinarily refrain from exercising (pendant) jurisdiction ...". Tully v. Mott Supermarkets, Inc., 540 F.2d 187, 196 (3d Cir. 1976); Lechtner v. Brownyard, 679 F.2d 322 (3d Cir. 1982).
In this case we have disposed of the federal claims raised by the plaintiff's complaint on defendant's motion for summary judgment. Therefore we should not continue to exercise jurisdiction over these pendant state claims.
Because our resolution of defendant's motion for summary judgment divests this court of any subject matter jurisdiction in this action, we feel that this matter must be remanded to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County for further proceedings.
An appropriate order will issue.