Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger
437 U.S. 365, 98 S. Ct. 2396, 57 L.Ed.2d 274 (1978)
Kroger, an Iowa
citizen, was electrocuted when a crane he was standing near (owned by Owen)
touched a power line (owned by Omaha Public Power Co.).
Kroger's wife sued Omaha for
wrongful death. Since Kroger was an Iowa citizen, and Omaha was a Nebraska
company, Kroger filed suit in Federal Court under diversity
Omaha filed a third party
complaint (using a Rule 14(a)
motion) to implead Owen as a co-defendant. Kroger amended
her complaint to include Owen.
Then, Omaha filed for and
received summary judgment, taking
them out of the case.
Owen was incorporated in
Nebraska. However, it turned out that their principle place of business
was Iowa. Since Kroger and Owen were both from the same State, there was
no longer complete diversity of citizenship required for jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Despite the fact that there
was no longer diversity jurisdiction,
the Federal Trial Court heard the case, and ruled for Kroger. Owen appealed.
that the Federal Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.
Kroger argued that it was
proper to hear the claim in Federal Court because there was pendent
jurisdiction as per 28 U.S.C.
Pendent jurisdiction is also known as supplemental
The Federal Appellate Court
affirmed. Owen appealed.
The Appellate Court looked
to United Mine Workers v. Gibbs (383
U.S. 715 (1966)).
The US Supreme Court
overturned and remanded for new trial.
The US Supreme Court found
that Kroger is not allowed to defeat diversity requirements simply by
suing only those defendants of diverse citizenship and wait for them to implead non-diverse defendants.
Kroger's claim against Owen
could not be allowed under pendent jurisdictional ground because claim against Owen was
"entirely separate" from her original claim against Omaha.
Owen's liability did not depend on whether or not Omaha was also liable.
In order to qualify for pendent
jurisdiction, the second claim has
to be "ancillary and dependent" on the original claim.
The Gibbs decision involved resolving a Federal and a
State claim against a single defendant, using Federal question
jurisdiction. This case involved only State claims, but was
brought against two different defendants using diversity jurisdiction. Not quite the same thing.
Kroger voluntarily brought
this case in Federal Court. The US Supreme Court felt that pendent
jurisdiction is more designed for
defendants who are brought to court against their will and have no choice
If Kroger really thought it
necessary to sue both Owen and Omaha in the same action, they could
easily have done so in State Court. Since Kroger chose Federal Court,
she must accept its limitations.
In a dissent, it was argued
that factors such as convenience, judicial economy, and considerations of
fairness should be considered instead of just rigidly upholding