Friday, December 6, 2013

Fairview Park Excavating Co. v. Al Monzo Construction Co. case brief

Fairview Park Excavating Co. v. Al Monzo Construction Co. case brief summary
560 F.2d 1122 (1977)

Appellants, general contractor and surety, challenged an order of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, which dismissed a cross-claim against appellee municipality for lack of diversity jurisdiction after it granted appellee municipality's motion to dismiss the complaint of appellee subcontractor on state law grounds. The district court also denied the motion for a new trial of appellants.

Appellee subcontractor obtained judgment against appellants, contractor and surety, but its complaint against appellee municipality was dismissed. Appellants sought review of the dismissal by the district court of appellants' cross-claim against appellee municipality for want of jurisdiction.

  • The court held that where a federal court dismissed a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, a cross-claim dependent upon ancillary jurisdiction failed as well. 
  • This was so because the complaint, to which the cross-claim was ancillary, provided the derivative source of jurisdiction for the cross-claim. 
  • However, the district court properly permitted appellants' cross-claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 13(g). 
  • The ancillary jurisdiction that resulted was not defeated by an adverse decision on the merits on the primary claim. 
  • The court noted that its decision normally required a remand for trial on the merits of the cross-claim. 
  • However, appellant already received the relief it sought against appellee municipality in a state court. 
  • Therefore, its claim was moot and the dismissal of the district court was affirmed.

The order of the district court, dismissing appellant contractor's cross-claim against appellee municipality for lack of an independent basis for jurisdiction, was affirmed. The court found that once proper, the cross-claim did not cease to be so because appellee municipality ceased to be a co-defendant. However, the court affirmed because the cross-claim was moot.

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