A builder has hired an electrician to wire an office building that is under construction. Their contract requires the builder to pay the electrician $45,000 within 30 days of the work’s completion. The electrician is a citizen of State A, the builder is a citizen of State B, and the construction work takes place in State C.
The office building features a meeting room with a state-of-the-art teleconferencing system, including a giant video screen and other specialized equipment. The builder has hired an audiovisual engineer to supervise the system’s installation. The engineer is a citizen of State C. The electrician’s contract with the builder requires the electrician to assist the engineer with wiring and installing the system.
The electrician completes his work, including his role in installing the teleconferencing system. Three days later, there is a fire in the office building, which causes $1,000,000 in damage. The fire department determines that the fire began in the teleconferencing system, most likely due to an electrical fault. Upon learning this, the builder notifies the electrician that he will not pay the electrician, citing a contract provision excusing payment in case of defective workmanship.
A week later, the builder attends a trade convention in State B, where he has several conversations with other builders about the fire. During these conversations, he says that the electrician and the engineer are “incompetent” and “dangerous,” and he warns the other builders not to hire them. The electrician and the engineer later learn of these remarks from others who attended the convention.
The electrician sues the builder in the U.S. District Court for the District of State B. The complaint alleges breach of contract based on the builder’s refusal to pay the electrician, and it seeks $45,000 in damages. The complaint also seeks $50,000 in damages for defamation, based on the builder’s remarks at the convention. Assume that venue is proper in the District of State B.
The builder counterclaims against the electrician for $1,000,000, alleging that the electrician’s negligence caused the fire. The builder then files a motion to transfer the case to the United States District Court for the District of State C, arguing that venue there is superior to venue in the District of State B. The long-arm statute of State C confers jurisdiction to the extent permitted by the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The electrician opposes the builder’s motion.
While the motion to
transfer is pending, the engineer seeks to join the suit in order to assert a defamation
claim against the builder, also based on the builder’s remarks at the
convention. The engineer seeks damages of $85,000.
- Can the electrician properly combine the contract claim and the defamation claim in a single lawsuit? Explain, addressing both joinder and subject-matter jurisdiction.
- Should the court grant the builder’s motion to transfer the case? Explain.
- Can the engineer join the electrician’s lawsuit against the builder? Explain, disregarding any issues of venue or transfer.
Can the electrician properly combine the contract claim and the defamation claim in a single lawsuit? Explain, addressing both joinder and subject-matter jurisdiction.
Should the court grant the builder’s motion to transfer the case? Explain.
Can the engineer join the electrician’s lawsuit against the builder? Explain, disregarding any issues of venue or transfer.