United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Plaintiffs' Motion to
Remand. (Doc. # 53) The Motion was presented after the filing
of Plaintiffs' October 12, 2018 Amended Complaint, which
voluntarily dismissed all federal claims from the case. (Doc.
# 51). The Motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for
decision. (Docs. # 54, 55, 56, 57, 58).
filed this action in the Circuit Court for Jefferson County,
Alabama, on May 17, 2018. (Doc. # 1-1). Defendants removed
the case to this court on June 18, 2018. (Doc. # 1). The
Notice of Removal relied exclusively on federal question
jurisdiction as grounds for removal. (Doc. # 1). Plaintiffs
moved to remand on July 16, 2018. (Doc. # 9). The court
denied that motion because Plaintiffs' Complaint asserted
claims for monetary damages against Defendants under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and, thus, the court had federal question
jurisdiction. (Doc. # 46). On October 12, 2018, Plaintiffs
filed their Amended Complaint, which omitted all federal
claims from the case. (Doc. # 51). On October 19, 2018,
Plaintiffs filed a second Motion to Remand asking the court
to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
remaining state law claims. (Doc. # 53). In response,
Defendants filed a Supplement to Notice of Removal arguing
that the resident individual Defendant, Susan Fuqua, was
fraudulently named in the Amended Complaint asserting the
remaining state law claims and, therefore, the court could
retain jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship. (Doc.
court understands it is well established that removal
statutes are to be strictly construed against removal.
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S.
100, 108 (1941); Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d
1092, 1094 (11th Cir. 1994) (“[R]emoval statutes are
construed narrowly; when the parties dispute jurisdiction,
uncertainties are resolved in favor of remand.”).
Furthermore, any doubt as to proper subject matter
jurisdiction should be resolved against removal. Butler
v. Polk, 592 F.2d 1293, 1296 (5th Cir. 1979).
begin, the court notes that this is not a case that was
improperly removed. At the time of removal, federal question
jurisdiction clearly existed because the operative Complaint
asserted claims for monetary damages against Defendants under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. # 1-1). See Pintando v.
Miami-Dade Housing Agency, 501 F.3d 1241, 1243 n. 2
(11th Cir. 2007) (noting that the district court determines
whether it had subject matter jurisdiction at the time of
removal and later changes to the pleadings do not affect the
court's exercise of that jurisdiction). It is true that
at the time of removal, Defendants did not assert the state
claims were subject to this court's diversity
jurisdiction. Nevertheless, those clams were properly before
this court under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). The state law
claims at issue were pendent to the federal claims advanced
in Plaintiffs' initial pleading. Plaintiffs argue that
the court does not have original jurisdiction over their
state law claims for a variety of reasons. For example, they
assert that Susan Fuqua is a non-diverse defendant who
destroys diversity jurisdiction. They argue that
Defendants' Supplemental Removal Notice was belatedly
filed and is ineffective. Plaintiffs also contend that, contrary
to Defendants' assertion, Fuqua is not fraudulently
joined in their Amended Complaint.
Plaintiffs argue that as this court does not possess original
jurisdiction over their remaining state law claims, it should
exercise its discretion to not continue to entertain them
under § 1367(a). The first three arguments each raise
interesting questions, but the court need not resolve them
here because, regardless of whether the court has original
jurisdiction or supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining
state law claims, it will continue to entertain them.
The Court Will Exercise Supplemental Jurisdiction Over the
Pendent State Law Claims
1367(a) permits a district court to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over claims for which it lacks original
jurisdiction if they are “are so related to claims in
the action within [the court's] original jurisdiction
that they form part of the same case or controversy under
Article III … .” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). The
rule provides for four exceptions. Three of those - claims
involving novel questions of state law, state law claims that
would predominate, and exceptional circumstances that compel
the court to decline jurisdiction - do not apply here.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1367 (c)(1), (2) and (4). The
only question here is whether the court should remand this
case to state court because the federal claims from the
original complaint, which Plaintiffs contend provided the
only basis for original jurisdiction, have been eliminated by
the Amended Complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3)
(“The district courts may decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over a claim under subsection (a)
if ... (3) the district court has dismissed all claims over
which it has original jurisdiction.”).
clear, this is a discretionary call. “A district
court's decision whether to exercise that jurisdiction
after dismissing every claim over which it had original
jurisdiction is purely At the end of the day, this question,
while certainly interesting, is academic. It is academic
because even if Defendants cannot assert diversity
jurisdiction, here the court may nevertheless maintain
subject matter jurisdiction over the remaining state law
claims under section 1367(c)(3), and chooses to do so. So,
whether based on original or supplemental jurisdiction, the
claims remaining are properly before this court and the court
will continue to entertain them.
Carlsbad Tech., Inc. v. HIF Bio, Inc., 556 U.S. 635,
639 (2009) (citing § 1367(c)). The court understands
that the presumption is that the court will dismiss (or, as
appropriate here, remand) the claims. But, “the
presumption is just that - a presumption and not a rule. It
is not immutable. The district court retains discretion to
exercise jurisdiction.” 13D Wright & Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure, § 3567.3 at 432 (2008).
determining whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction,
“the court ‘should take into account concerns of
comity, judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and the
like.'” Cook ex rel. Estate of Tessier v.
Sheriff of Monroe County, Fla., 402 F.3d 1092, 1123
(11th Cir. 2005) (quoting Lewis v. City of St.
Petersburg, 260 F.3d 1260, 1267 (11th Cir. 2001)).
Notably, this case is one of a series of similar, complex
cases being handled by this court:
• 2:12-cv-00724-RDP-TFM Thurman, et al. v. Judicial
• 2:12-cv-02819-RDP Ray et al v. Judicial