United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, Jr., Magistrate Judge.
Before the court is Plaintiffs Motion to Remand. (R. Doc. 8). The motion is opposed. (R. Doc. 16). Based on the following, the motion should be granted and the action should be remanded.
On February 2, 2015, Stephanie Savoy ("Plaintiff) filed this suit in the 18th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Pointe Coupee, Louisiana, naming as defendants Melissa Hymel; the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury ("Police Jury"); and the Pointe Coupee Parish Public Library Board of Control ("Board of Control") (collectively "Defendants"). (R. Doc. 1-2). Plaintiff seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and La. R.S. § 23:967 (the Louisiana Whistleblower Statute). Plaintiff alleges that on August 14, 2014, she was wrongfully terminated from her employment at the Pointe Coupee Parish Library by her supervisor, Ms. Hymel, after she reported to the Board of Control that she had been harassed by Ms. Hymel. Plaintiff further alleges that the Board of Control and Police Jury are liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior. (R. Doc. 1-2 at 1-2).
Defendant removed the action on March 6, 2015, alleging that the court has federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 over the federal civil rights claims and supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 over the state law whistleblower claim. (R. Doc. 1). On March 20, 2015, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss that is currently pending. (R. Doc. 3).
On March 31, 2015, Plaintiff moved for partial voluntary dismissal of her claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (R. Doc. 8). The same day, Plaintiff moved to remand on the basis of this court's lack of jurisdiction over Plaintiffs remaining state law claims. (R. Doc. 8 at 2). The court dismissed Plaintiffs federal claim on April 8, 2015. (R. Doc. 14).
II. Arguments of the Parties
In support of remand, Plaintiff argues that upon dismissal of her claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, there will no longer be a claim or cause of action under which this court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (R. Doc. 8). Plaintiff does not discuss any factors in support of remand other than the dismissal of her federal cause of action.
In opposition, Defendants argue that dismissal of Plaintiffs federal claims does not defeat subject matter jurisdiction where jurisdiction existed at the time of removal. (R. Doc. 16 at 2). Defendants state that, when all federal claims are dismissed, the decision on whether or not to retain jurisdiction lies squarely within the discretion of the trial court. (R. Doc. 16 at 2). Defendants further state that this court should use its discretion to deny Plaintiffs motion to remand based on the statutory factors set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c) as well as the common law factors of judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity (R. Doc. 16 at 3). Defendants argue that the action should remain in federal court because it is in its early stages, this court is familiar with the action, and the parties have submitted briefing on a pending motion to dismiss. (R. Doc. 16 at 4). Defendants further argue that this court should deny Plaintiff's motion to remand because Plaintiff has engaged in "manipulative" forum shopping techniques by voluntarily dismissing her federal claims to enable remand to state court. (R. Doc. 16 at 5).
III. Law and Analysis
"A district court has discretion to remand to state court a removed case involving pendant claims after the court has determined that retaining jurisdiction would be inappropriate." Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 357 (1988). A district court may decline to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims when federal claims are no longer at issue after granting plaintiffs voluntary motion for partial dismissal. 28 U.S.C. 1367(c)(3); Patrick Media Group v. North Texas Tollway Authority, No. 98-CV-1136, 1998 WL 892279 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 14, 1998). "Our general rule is to dismiss state claims when the federal claims to which they are pendent are dismissed." Enochs v. Lampasas County, 641 F.3d 155, 159 (5th Cir. 2011) (citing Parker & Parsley Petroleum Co. v. Dressler Indus., 972 F.2d 580, 585 (5th Cir. 1992)).
The district court should hear a claim based on state law when doing so would promote judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity. Carnegie-Mellon Univ., 484 U.S. at 357. These factors will weigh against remand when a district court is "intimately familiar with the facts" and remand "would have resulted in a waste of scarce judicial resources. Brown v. Sw. Bell Tel. Co., 901 F.2d 1250, 1255 (5th Cir. 1990). When all federal law claims are eliminated before trial, however, these factors "will usually point toward declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims." Carnegie-Mellon Univ., 484 U.S. at 350.
Judicial economy favors remand when the district court has devoted "hardly any federal resources, let alone a significant amount of resources" to the state law claim at the time the federal claims were dismissed. Id at 159. This factor also favors remand when neither party would be subjected to duplicative "research, discovery, briefing, or other trial preparation." Id . Convenience favors remand when all parties, witnesses, and evidence are located within the jurisdiction of the same state court. Id. at 160. Fairness favors remand when a state court hears purely state law claims and there is nothing in the record to suggest that either party would be prejudiced by remand. Hicks v. Austin Indep. Sch. Dist., 564 F.Appx. 747, 748 (5th Cir. 2014). Comity recognizes that "district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and often are not as well equipped for determinations of state law as are state courts." Parker & Parsley Petroleum Co. 972 F.2d at 588-89.
District courts should also guard against forum manipulation and deny motions to remand "where appropriate." Brown, 901 F.2d at 1255 (citing Carnegie-Mellon Univ., 484 U.S. at 357)). "[A plaintiff]'s motion to amend his complaint to delete federal claims is not a particularly egregious form of forum manipulation, if manipulation at all." Enochs, 641 F.3d at 160. Moreover, forum ...