United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
JEAN M. CHAMPAGNE
MICHAEL MAENZA, SWEGS KITCHEN L.L.C. and SWEGS DEVELOPMENT L.L.C.
ORDER AND REASONS
ZAINEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a Motion to Remand (Rec. Doc.
6) filed by Plaintiff Jean Champagne. Defendants
Michael Maenza, SWEGS Kitchen, L.L.C., and SWEGS Development,
L.L.C. (hereinafter collectively referred to as
“Defendants”) consent to the motion subject to
certain conditions. (Rec. Doc. 7). The motion, set for
submission on March 7, 2018, is before the Court on the
briefs without oral argument. Having considered the motion
and memoranda of counsel, the record, and the applicable law,
the Court finds that the Plaintiff's motion is
GRANTED for the reasons set forth below.
seeks remand of this action to the 22nd Judicial District
Court for the Parish of St. Tammany, Louisiana on the grounds
that he inadvertently added the words “and Federal
law” to his First Amended Petition. (Rec. Doc. 6-5, p.
5). This matter was originally filed in state court on August
10, 2017. In his original Petition, Plaintiff brought state
court claims alleging that he was unlawfully terminated and
is due relief under Louisiana's law of obligations, the
Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law, the Louisiana Wage
Statute, and the Louisiana Suit on Open Account Statute.
(Rec. Doc. 6-1, p. 1). On January 5, 2018, the state court
dismissed Plaintiff's claims under the Louisiana Wage
Statute, but granted Plaintiff 15 days “to file an
Amended Petition against Defendants as to his claims for
violation of the Open Account Statute, breach of contract,
and violation of the Louisiana Employment Discrimination
Law.” (Rec. Doc. 6-1, p. 2). Thereafter, Plaintiff
filed his First Amended Petition for Damages on January 19,
2018. However, Plaintiff inadvertently inserted the phrase
“and Federal law” after alleging that Defendant
breached the retaliation provisions of the Louisiana
Employment Discrimination Law. On January 29, 2018, Defendants
removed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 1367 alleging
that this Court has original federal question jurisdiction
under § 1331 and supplemental jurisdiction over the
state law employment claims under § 1367. (Rec. Doc. 1,
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), “any civil action brought in
a State court of which the district courts of the United
States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the
defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the
United States for the district and division embracing the
place where such action is pending, ” unless Congress
provides otherwise. To respect a plaintiff's initial
choice of a state judicial forum and the federalism
principles implicated by removal, courts strictly construe
the removal statute. Riley v. Wal-Mart, La., No.
15-5729, 2015 WL 9268160, at *1 (E.D. La. Dec. 21, 2015)
(Africk, J.); Gutierrez v. Flores, 543 F.3d 248, 251
(5th Cir. 2008); see also Robin Pipeline Co. v. New
Medico Head Clinic Facility, No. 94-1450, 1995 WL
479719, at *1 (E.D. La. Aug. 14, 1995) (Clement, J.) (quoting
York v. Horizon Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 712
F.Supp. 85, 87 (E.D. La. 1989) (Feldman, J.)).
well-established that the party invoking the jurisdiction of
a federal court has the burden of proving that the exercise
of such jurisdiction is proper. St. Paul Reins. Co. v.
Greenberg, 134 F.3d 1250, 1253 (5th Cir. 1998) (citing
Gaitor v. Peninsular & Occid. S.S. Co., 287 F.2d
252, 253-54 (5th Cir. 1961)). Any doubt regarding whether
removal jurisdiction is proper should be resolved against
federal jurisdiction and in favor of remand. Acuna v.
Brown & Root, Inc., 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir.
2000) (citing Willy v. Coastal Corp., 855 F.2d 1160,
1164 (5th Cir. 1988)).
Law and Analysis
and Defendants all agree that Plaintiff's federal law
claim should be dismissed. (Rec. Doc. 6-1, p. 3); (Rec. Doc.
7, p. 4). Defendants request dismissal with prejudice.
Plaintiff's position on whether he consents to his
federal claim being dismissed with or without prejudice is
unclear. Additionally, Defendants request the Court grant
them attorney's fees and costs incurred as a result of
Plaintiff's removal. The Court will first address the
issue surrounding dismissal of Plaintiff's federal claim.
Thereafter, the Court will discuss attorney's fees and
Plaintiff's Title VII Claim
Plaintiff's First Amended Petition only provides the
phrase “and Federal law, ” the Court finds that
Plaintiff's cause of action likely falls in the purview
of a Title VII retaliation claim. Plaintiff's full claim
states, “[t]he conduct described above also constitutes
a breach of the retaliation provisions of the LEDL and
Federal law in that [Plaintiff] was terminated solely because
he reported on and opposed practices which he reasonably
concluded may be infractions of law.” (Rec. Doc. 6-5,
p. 5). Title VII prohibits workplace discrimination based on
race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-2(a)(1)-(2). Title VII also prohibits
retaliation against an employee who has opposed any
employment practice made unlawful by Title VII. Griffith
v. City of New Orleans, Nos. 11-245, 11-535, 2014 WL
1796689, *1 (E.D. La. May 6, 2014).
U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a) prohibits employers from retaliating
when “[an employee] has opposed . . . an unlawful
employment practice . . . or . . . made a [Title VII]
charge.” University of Texas Southwestern
Medical Center v. Nassar, 570 U.S. 338 (2013). Title VII
claims are also subject to particular time restraints
providing that before a plaintiff can commence a civil action
in federal court, he or she must file a charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the
alleged unlawful employment practice. 42 U.S.C. §
employment discrimination case, the plaintiff must exhaust
all administrative remedies before pursuing her claims in
federal court. Williams v. Cardinal Health 200, LLC,948 F.Supp.2d 652, 657 (E.D. La. May, 31, 2013) (citing
Taylor v. Books A Million, Inc., 296 F.3d 376, 379
(5th Cir. 2002)). Although a timely filed EEOC complaint is
not a jurisdictional requirement, it is a precondition that
will preclude a plaintiff from bringing such a claim if the
time requirement is not met. Id. (citing Cruce
v. Brazosport Independent School Dist., 703 F.2d 862,
863 (5th Cir. 1983)). As a general rule, plaintiffs must file
a charge with the EEOC within 180 days of when the unlawful
employment practice occurred. 42 U.S.C. § ...