Document Type


Publication Date

January 1980


The federal courts have long struggled with the conflict be- tween the limits of their constitutional and statutory jurisdiction and their desire to provide complete relief to petitioning parties. Because of problems associated with this tension, the federal courts adopted the doctrine of ancillary jurisdiction. Ancillary jurisdiction enables a court adjudicating a matter properly before it to decide other related matters even though it would lack jurisdiction to decide the related matters if they were presented independently. The doctrine was originally created to allow a federal court to adjudicate all claims affecting a controversy properly brought before it, but was soon expanded to permit the hearing of compulsory counterclaims and cross-claims as well. With the adoption of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 19381 ancillary jurisdiction was further expanded into third-party practice. Much of this growth was without the direct approval of the Supreme Court. While the Court set forth new tests for pendent jurisdiction, it re- fused to clarify differences between ancillary and pendent jurisdiction or to indicate the scope of ancillary jurisdiction under the Federal Rules. The Court has now acted, however, by apparently calling a halt to any further expansion of ancillary jurisdiction with the 1978 decision of Owen Equipment& Erection Company v. Kroger. This article will first examine the development of ancillary jurisdiction in the federal courts. Second, the impact of Kroger,the first Supreme Court decision in more than fifty years to analyze ancillary jurisdiction, on the exercise of ancillary jurisdiction in third-party practice will be discussed. Finally, the article will examine several instances in which the probable implications of Kroger should, and perhaps can, be avoided.

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