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Supplemental Jurisdiction

We already have seen, in the case of the statutory requirements of complete diversity (as interpreted by the Supreme Court) and a minimum amount in controversy (as expressly provided by Congress) for diversity actions, that Congress has not exercised the full measure of its constitutionally delegated authority to cede subject matter jurisdiction to the federal courts. Where Congress has chosen not to occupy the entire constitutionally sanctioned jurisdictional field, does or should this prevent the courts themselves from expanding upon their statutory jurisdiction? For example, suppose an employee who believes she has been the victim of sexual harassment brings a claim against her employer under the federal Civil Rights Act. Assuming that she and the employer are citizens of the same State, should she, nevertheless, be able, in that same lawsuit, to add a tort claim against the company for assault or intentional infliction of emotional distress? And what if she also wants to sue the supervisor who allegedly harassed her? To avoid filing two separate suits, can she add a tort claim against that supervisor in the action against the employer when she and the supervisor are not of diverse citizenship? Alternatively, if the employee is diverse from the company but not from the supervisor, can she bring tort claims for infliction of emotional distress against both of them in the same federal action? Finally, what would happen, jurisdictionally, if the employee sues only the employer and the employer seeks, in that same suit, to bring a state law claim for indemnity against the nondiverse offending supervisor?

The issue of whether the a federal trial court can assume jurisdiction over claims that do not fall within its “original” jurisdiction (provided for in either the general federal question and diversity provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§1331 and 1332 or the various other subject or party-specific provisions of the Judicial Code) has been the subject of a significant amount of judicial and legislative attention.

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