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Moody v. Oxford Emergency Medical Services Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

October 1, 2018

ANN MOODY, Plaintiffs,
v.
OXFORD EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES INC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On August 9, 2018, Plaintiff Ann Moody filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Calhoun County, Alabama, naming seven defendants: (1) Oxford Emergency Medical Services, Inc. (“Oxford EMS”); (2) Oxford EMS's Board of Directors (“the Board”); (3) Gregory Skinner, the Chairman of the Board; (4) Patrick Miller, the Vice-Chairman of the Board; (5) Randall Beshears, a member of the Board; (6) Ricky Howell, the Director of Oxford EMS; and (7) the City of Oxford. (See Doc. 1-1 at 5-7). The complaint raises thirteen counts, of which only one is a federal cause of action. (See Doc. 1-1 at 13-17; Doc. 1-2 at 2- 14).

         Defendants removed the case to federal court, asserting that the court has original jurisdiction over the federal cause of action under 28 U.S.C. 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law causes of action under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. (Doc. 1 at 3-4). On its own motion, the court ordered Defendants to show cause why the court should not decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law causes of action. (Doc. 4). Defendants have filed their responses. (Docs. 5, 6, 7). The City of Oxford takes no position on whether this court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction (doc. 6 at 4), and the remaining defendants argue that that the court should exercise supplemental jurisdiction (docs. 5, 7).

         Because the court finds that the state law claims substantially predominate over the single federal claim, the court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over them. For the reasons set out in more detail below, the court SEVERS Count Eight from the other counts. The court REMANDS Counts One through Seven and Nine through Thirteen to the Circuit Court of Calhoun County.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Ms. Moody alleges that in 1997, she began working as an office manager for a predecessor to Oxford EMS, a company she calls Oxford EMS 1990. (Doc. 1-1 at 8). At some point, Oxford EMS 1990's then-director, Randy Third, and Oxford EMS's current director, Mr. Howell, asked Ms. Moody to sign some paperwork, which turned out to be an application to incorporate and organize the company that would become Oxford EMS. (Id. at 8-9). Unbeknownst to Ms. Moody, the application represented that Ms. Moody was an elector of the City of Oxford, a position that she has never held. (Id. at 9). In 2009, the City of Oxford's City Council approved the application, resulting in the formation of Oxford EMS. (Id. at 10).

         In 2014, Ms. Moody became Oxford EMS's office manager. (Doc. 1-2 at 8). In March and November 2016, Ms. Moody's coworker Missy Hall filed ethics complaints against Mr. Howell, Mr. Skinner, Mr. Miller, and Mr. Beshears-all officers of Oxford EMS. (Doc. 1-1 at 14, 17). Ms. Moody's complaint does not reveal the basis for those ethics complaints, but she does allege that she cooperated with the Alabama Ethics Commission's investigation, and in fact soon filed her own ethics complaint against Mr. Howell. (Id.). The Commission eventually concluded that it did not have jurisdiction over any of the Oxford EMS officers because they were not public employees or public officers. (Id. at 15, 17).

         Ms. Moody alleges that several things happened after she filed her ethics complaint. First, as a result of her cooperation with the Alabama Ethics Commission, Mr. Howell began retaliating against her, resulting in her being placed on paid administrative leave in July 2017. (Doc. 1-2 at 8-9). Her employment was terminated in January 2018. (Id. at 9). Second, at some point, Mr. Howell obtained her identifying information and used it to his own benefit and for the purpose of obstructing justice. (Id. at 10-11). Third, the Board, Mr. Skinner, Mr. Miller, and Mr. Beshears allowed Mr. Howell to cover up his wrongdoing by failing to place him on administrative leave while they investigated her complaints. (Id. at 12). She also contends that they failed to adequately investigate her complaints and that they failed to take appropriate disciplinary action against Mr. Howell. (Id.).

         Based on those factual allegations, Ms. Moody asserts the following thirteen counts:

(1) an order dissolving Oxford EMS, appointing a receiver, and awarding attorneys' fees and costs;
(2) a declaratory judgment that Mr. Howell and the employees of Oxford EMS are public employees under Alabama law;
(3) a declaratory judgment that Mr. Howell, Mr. Skinner, Mr. Miller, Mr. Beshears, and two non-defendants are public officials under Alabama law;
(4) a declaratory judgment that all funds received by Oxford EMS are ...

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