Finley v. United States

PETITIONER: Finley
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Reproductive Health Services

DOCKET NO.: 87-1973
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 490 US 545 (1989)
ARGUED: Feb 28, 1989
DECIDED: May 22, 1989

ADVOCATES:
David L. Shapiro - on behalf of Respondent
Joseph T. Cook - on behalf of Petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Finley v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 28, 1989 in Finley v. United States

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in No. 87-1973, Barbara Finley versus the United States.

Mr. Cook, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Joseph T. Cook:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case involves the question of whether or not pendent-party jurisdiction may be exercised when the anchor jurisdiction is the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Although a constitutional question is presented and a detailed analysis of federal jurisdictional statutes has been undertaken, the moving force behind our presence here in the Court today is logic, reason, common sense, and judicial economy.

William H. Rehnquist:

How can you fail?

[Laughter]

Joseph T. Cook:

I was hoping it would work, Mr. Chief Justice.

[Laughter]

In responding to our opening brief, the United States seems to give short-shift to what are considered by me the practical reasons for recognizing pendent-party jurisdiction.

But for Barbara Finley, the Petitioner here, the practical reasons are the only reasons that count.

Barbara Finley seeks one trial in one court for her tort claim arising from the loss of her husband and her two daughters.

She seeks to limit her own financial and emotional expenditures.

What she seeks would result in judicial economy, although I confess that that was not what she asked me for when she came and asked me to represent her.

Most significantly to her, the exercise of pendent-party jurisdiction in this case would eliminate the possibility of inconsistent and irreconcilable verdicts and judgments.

One from the state court and another one from the federal court right across the street.

Antonin Scalia:

Why wouldn't that be the case with respect to diversity jurisdiction as well?

Where--

Joseph T. Cook:

Justice Scalia--

Antonin Scalia:

--where there's not complete diversity but you want to get everybody together?

Joseph T. Cook:

--A substantial factor in a diversity case where there is incomplete diversity is the fact that the claimant, the plaintiff, has the option... in this case, Barbara Finley would have the option if she so chose... to bring all of the actions in state court.

She could get everybody in front of one jury and judge.

Uh-huh.

Joseph T. Cook:

With the Federal Tort Claims Act as the anchor jurisdiction, and absent diversity, as diversity is not present here, she is precluded under the present law in the Ninth Circuit.

Antonin Scalia:

Are all the defendants always suable in one state?

Joseph T. Cook:

Justice--

Antonin Scalia:

I understood that, you know, very often you want to bring a diversity action because you've got plaintiffs all over the place... or, defendants all over the place.

Joseph T. Cook:

--Well, Justice Scalia, there are times when complete diversity may not work for... if you've got a multi-party case.

There are times when that may arise.

Antonin Scalia:

You can't get them all in state court either--