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HYNSON v. CITY OF CHESTER

April 19, 1988

Jalee Hynson, et al.
v.
City Of Chester, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: KATZ

 KATZ, J.

 Before the court are the motions for summary judgment of defendants Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County, Inc. and Dolly Wideman, of defendants Brock International Security Corp. and Allied Security, Inc., of defendants Scotfoam, Inc. and General Felt Industries and of defendants Delaware Valley Legal Assistance Association, Inc. and Suzanne Noble. Plaintiffs have responded to all the motions. *fn1" I heard the motions at the final pretrial conference. For the reasons below, defendants' motions are granted because there is no subject matter jurisdiction over these nondiverse private parties against whom no federal claims are asserted.

 FACTS

 Only a brief recitation of the pertinent and undisputed facts is necessary here. Plaintiffs' complaint alleges that on October 15, 1984 Alesia Hynson *fn2" was killed by her former boyfriend, Jamil Gandy. Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint, para. 82. (hereinafter "Plaintiffs' Complaint") At the time of her death Ms. Hynson was working as a security guard for defendants Brock International Security Corp. ("Brock") and Allied Security, Inc. ("Allied"). While stationed at the production plant of defendant Scotfoam, Inc. ("Scotfoam") in Eddystone, Pennsylvania, Ms. Hynson was shot by Jamil Gandy.

 Her murder by Mr. Gandy was the end of a brutal, abusive relationship. For at least one year prior to her death Ms. Hynson had sought protection from Jamil Gandy and from his verbal threats and physical assaults. Defendant Dolly Wideman and her employer, defendant Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County, Inc. ("Domestic Abuse Project"), had, shortly prior to Ms. Hynson's death, been attempting to assist her in her attempt to protect herself.

 On October 11, 1984, approximately four days before her death, Ms. Hynson and her counsel, defendant Suzanne Noble, an attorney with defendant Delaware County Legal Assistance Association ("Delaware Legal Assistance"), appeared before the Honorable Robert A. Wright of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas seeking a permanent protection from abuse order. *fn3" Ms. Noble presented to the court what in essence would be the terms of such an order. *fn4" Mr. Gandy was present at this hearing, unrepresented by counsel, and agreed to the terms of the order. Ms. Noble then informed the court that she would, in the near future, present a written form of order to the court for Judge Wright's signature. On October 16, 1984, Ms. Noble delivered a written order to Judge Wright incorporating the terms agreed to on October 11th in open court by Alesia Hynson and Jamil Gandy. That order was signed by Judge Wright on that same day, one day after Alesia Hynson's death.

 Plaintiffs' complaint alleges that Jamil Gandy, during the early morning hours of October 14, 1984, threatened Alesia Hynson with a gun and burglarized her house. The Chester Police responded but took no action against Mr. Gandy. The next day, on October 15, 1984, Jamil Gandy killed Alesia Hynson. As a result of these events plaintiffs raise a variety of claims against numerous defendants. *fn5"

 In Count Thirteen (13) of their complaint, plaintiffs assert a common law claim for negligence against defendant Dolly Wideman and Domestic Abuse Project. Plaintiffs' Complaint at paras. 227-234. In addition, Count Sixteen (16) of plaintiffs' complaint asserts a claim against Dolly Wideman and Domestic Abuse Project for punitive damages. Plaintiffs' Complaint at paras. 244-250. These are the only outstanding claims against these defendants. *fn6" Similarly, plaintiffs' complaint contains, in Count Ten (10), only a common law negligence claim against Brock and Allied, and in Count Sixteen (16) a claim for punitive damages pursuant to Pennsylvania law. Plaintiffs' Complaint at paras. 220-208, 244-250. Again, no federal claims are pending against these defendants. Likewise, plaintiffs' complaint alleges in Count Nine (9) a common law negligence claim against defendants Scotfoam and General Felt Industries, and in Count Sixteen (16) a punitive damages claim. This is also the case with respect to plaintiffs' claims against Suzanne Noble and Delaware Legal Assistance. Plaintiffs have, in Counts Fourteen (14) and Fifteen (15) of their complaint asserted that these defendants are liable for common law breach of warranty and negligence, and in Count Sixteen (16) for punitive damages, but plaintiffs have likewise asserted no federal claims against either Suzanne Noble or Delaware Legal Assistance. Plaintiffs' Complaint at paras. 235-239, 240-243, 244-250. Plaintiffs have federal claims under section 1983 against other defendants, as a result of the events that occurred in the interim between October 11, 1984 and October 16, 1984, but there are no federal claims asserted against these moving defendants.

 DISCUSSION

 Defendants contend in their motions that summary judgment should properly be entered on their behalf because plaintiffs have put forth only state-law claims against them. As plaintiffs' only federal claims are section 1983 causes of action which are asserted against other parties, defendants argue that the decision of the Supreme Court in Aldinger v. Howard, 427 U.S. 1, 49 L. Ed. 2d 276, 96 S. Ct. 2413 (1976) leaves this court without subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate plaintiffs' claims against them. *fn7" Plaintiffs, on the other hand, contend that this court has complete discretion to decide whether or not to retain jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claims against these defendants. Contrary to plaintiffs' assertions, this court does not possess unfettered discretion and must be guided by the Supreme Court's decision in Aldinger.

 It has long been settled that federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Federal district courts may only exercise subject matter jurisdiction when a case is within the judicial power of the United States, as defined by the Constitution, and when Congress has exercised its authority in a jurisdictional grant. Owen Equipment and Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 372, 57 L. Ed. 2d 274, 98 S. Ct. 2396 (1978). The Supreme Court, however, has established that when a federal court has subject matter jurisdiction over a federal claim it may also exercise jurisdiction over a related state claim over which the court has no independent basis of subject matter jurisdiction. United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725, 16 L. Ed. 2d 218, 86 S. Ct. 1130 (1965). This discretionary exercise of "pendent jurisdiction" is grounded in notions of judicial economy, convenience and fairness to litigants, and requires only that the state and federal claims derive from a common nucleus of operative fact, such that the claims would ordinarily be expected to be tried in one proceeding. Gibbs, 383 U.S. at 725. "Pendent party jurisdiction" is "an extension of jurisdiction to the joinder of additional parties - as distinct from additional claims - with respect to whom there is no independent basis of federal jurisdiction." Sansom Committee by Cook v. Lynn, 735 F.2d 1535, 1551 n.6 (3d Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 1017, 105 S. Ct. 431, 83 L. Ed. 2d 358 (1984); see generally Currie, Pendent Parties, 45 U.Chi.L.Rev. 753 (1978). Whether or not this court may exercise pendent party jurisdiction over these defendants is the issue raised by the instant motions.

 The Supreme Court addressed the issue of pendent party jurisdiction in Aldinger v. Howard, 427 U.S. 1, 49 L. Ed. 2d 276, 96 S. Ct. 2413 (1976). In Aldinger a civil rights claim under section 1983 against Spokane County officials was joined with a state law claim against the county itself. There was at that time no independent basis of jurisdiction over the county as municipal entities were not then considered "persons" for section 1983 purposes. *fn8" The Court therefore, found that there was no federal court jurisdiction over Spokane County and affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, dismissing the county as a defendant.

 In addressing the question of the availability of pendent party jurisdiction in federal courts, the Aldinger court noted that there is a distinct difference between the exercise of pendent jurisdiction of claims and pendent party jurisdiction. Indeed, "it is one thing to authorize two parties, already present in federal court by virtue of a case over which the court has jurisdiction, to litigate in addition to their federal claim a state-law claim over which there is no independent basis of federal jurisdiction. But it is quite another thing to permit a plaintiff, who has asserted a claim against one defendant with respect to which there is federal jurisdiction, to join an entirely different defendant on the basis of a state-law claim over which there is no independent basis of federal jurisdiction, simply because his claim against the first defendant and his claim against the second defendant 'derive from a common nucleus of operative fact.'" Aldinger, 427 U.S. at 14 (quoting Gibbs, 383 U.S. at 725). In order to decide the propriety of the exercise of pendent party jurisdiction the Aldinger court employed a three-step analysis. The "three-step" or "three-tiered" analysis enunciated in Aldinger has never been changed by the Supreme Court and is the approach to pendent party jurisdiction which binds this court. International Molders v. United Foundries, 644 F. Supp. 499, 503 (M.D. Pa. 1986). In determining whether pendent party jurisdiction is an appropriate exercise of federal judicial power, the court must first consider whether there is constitutional power to entertain the state law claim; secondly, whether the Congressional statute conferring jurisdiction over the federal claim expressly or by implication negates the exercise of jurisdiction over the particular federal claim; and finally if considerations of judicial economy, convenience and fairness to the litigants compels a discretionary exercise of jurisdiction. International Molders, 644 F. Supp. at 504; Hatcher v. Emergency Medical Specialty Services, Inc., 643 F. Supp. 1124, 1126 (D.N.J. 1986); Grodjeski v. Township of Plainsboro, 577 F. Supp. 67, 69 (D.N.J. 1983). In applying these principles, the Aldinger court found that "resolution of a claim of pendent party jurisdiction . . . calls for careful attention to the relevant statutory language." Aldinger, 427 U.S. at 17. Indeed, "before it can be concluded that such jurisdiction exists, a federal court must satisfy itself not only that Art. III permits it, but that Congress in the statutes conferring jurisdiction has not expressly or by implication negated its existence." Aldinger, 427 U.S. at 18. The court may not exercise its discretion until it has first determined that both the Constitution and the Congress permit the use of ...


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