PAMELA M. PERRY, M.D., Plaintiff-Appellant,
THE SCHUMACHER GROUP OF LOUISIANA, a Louisiana Corporation, THE SCHUMACHER GROUP OF FLORIDA, INC., a Florida Corporation, Defendants-Appellees, COLLIER EMERGENCY GROUP, LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company, Defendant-Cross Defendant-Cross Claimant-Appellee, HEALTH MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES, INC., a Florida Corporation, Defendant-Cross Claimant-Appellee, HEALTH MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES, INC., a Michigan Corporation, Defendant-Appellee, NAPLES HMA, LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company, dba Physicians Regional Healthcare System, Defendant-Cross Claimant- Cross Defendant-Appellee.
from the United States District Court for the Middle District
of Florida D.C. Docket No. 2:13-cv-0036-JES-DNF
TJOFLAT and MARTIN, Circuit Judges, and MURPHY, [*] District Judge.
TJOFLAT, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
workplace-discrimination, retaliation, and breach-of-contract
case, Dr. Pamela Perry appeals the District Court's
denial of her motion to enter final judgment, pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), as to seven of her
eight causes of action against three companies (referred to
collectively as "Defendants") for whom she once
worked. The District Court disposed of those claims on the
merits by dismissing some, granting summary judgment in favor
of Defendants as to some, and entering judgment as a matter
of law in favor of Defendants as to others. This left pending
and due to be tried only one claim against one Defendant: a
42 U.S.C. § 1981 discrimination claim against Defendant
Naples HMA, LLC ("NHMA").
effort to appeal the disposition of her other causes of
action instead of trying the § 1981 claim in isolation,
Dr. Perry entered into a joint stipulation with NHMA
purporting to voluntarily dismiss the § 1981 claim
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1) and then
moved the District Court to enter final judgment on the
remaining claims. The District Court denied the motion,
finding that it no longer had jurisdiction over the action
after Dr. Perry voluntarily dismissed her lone remaining
careful consideration of the record, and with the benefit of
oral argument, we reverse because the parties' joint
stipulation of dismissal was invalid. Rule 41(a)(1),
according to its plain text, permits voluntary dismissals
only of entire "actions, " not claims. Thus, the
invalid joint stipulation did not divest the District Court
of jurisdiction over the case.
Perry is an African-American physician who, during the time
period relevant to the case, worked as medical director of
Pine Ridge Medical Center in Naples, Florida. There are five
named Defendants in this case, four of which are still part
of the case and parties to this appeal. Two are subsidiaries
of The Schumacher Group ("TSG"), a company that
specializes in placing physicians in hospitals in numerous
states and worked with Dr. Perry in her placement at Pine
Ridge. Collier Emergency Group, LLC ("CEG") is an
affiliate of TSG which offered Dr. Perry the position. Naples
HMA, LLC ("NHMA") operated the Pine Ridge facility.
A fifth Defendant, Health Management Associates
("HMA"), was not affiliated with any of the other
Defendants, and Dr. Perry stated that she sued this company
in error. Accordingly, she voluntarily dismissed HMA from the
January 2013, Dr. Perry brought suit in the Middle District
of Florida against Defendants, alleging that they
discriminated and retaliated against her during her
employment with them, in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. After the case
began, she asked for and received leave to amend her
complaint four times. The final iteration, the Fourth Amended
Complaint, contained eight claims raised in separate counts,
each alleged against a specific Defendant or Defendants.
case progressed, the District Court gradually disposed of
seven of the eight counts, eliminating some by granting a
joint motion to dismiss, others by granting summary judgment
on some claims in favor of some Defendants, and still others
by entering judgment for some Defendants on some claims as a
matter of law. When the dust settled, only one count, §
1981 discrimination,  against one Defendant, NHMA, remained.
not to proceed to trial on that claim alone, Dr. Perry
attempted to first make it possible to appeal the disposal of
her other claims. In an attempt to effectuate immediate
appeal, she entered on November 9, 2014 into a "Joint
Stipulation for Voluntary Dismissal Without Prejudice of
Count III (42 U.S.C. § 1981) of Fourth Amended
Complaint" ("the Stipulation"). The
Stipulation stated, "The parties agree that Count III of
the Fourth Amended Complaint as the remaining claim in this
action is hereby dismissed without prejudice." The
parties stated that they were filing the Stipulation pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A), which governs
voluntary dismissal of actions without a court
order. Thereafter, the District Court observed
that "nothing further remain[ed] to be done" in the
case, and accordingly entered judgment in favor of Defendants
and dismissed all claims but the § 1981 discrimination
claim with prejudice.
December 12, 2014, Dr. Perry appealed the disposition of her
claims. On January 21, 2015, we ordered the parties to brief
whether this Court had jurisdiction to entertain Dr.
Perry's appeal, in light of the fact that the District
Court's dismissal of her § 1981 discrimination claim
was without prejudice. Five days later, Dr. Perry moved the
District Court to enter final judgment, pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), as to the claims of which the
District Court disposed on the merits. The District Court
denied her motion, finding that, in the wake of Dr.
Perry's voluntary dismissal of her sole remaining claim,
it lacked jurisdiction to grant the Rule 54(b) motion.
receiving the parties' responses to our jurisdictional
question, we held that we lacked jurisdiction to consider Dr.
Perry's appeal because the District Court's order
disposing of her counts was "non-final." Order of
Aug. 28, 2015, Perry v. Schumacher Grp., No.
14-15600 (11th Cir. Aug. 28, 2015). On remand, Dr. Perry
moved the District Court to dismiss her § 1981
discrimination claim with prejudice, and simultaneously filed
a renewed motion for entry of final judgment. The District
Court denied both motions, holding that it "lack[ed]