United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
JACOB K. YOUNG, Plaintiff,
AXIS WELDING & MACHINE WORKS, INC., GEORGE M. SMITH, and JULIE L. EDGE Defendants.
F. MOORER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Axis Welding & Machine Works, Inc. (“Axis” or
“Defendant”), has filed a motion for leave to
amend its response to Plaintiff's Complaint in order to
add a counterclaim alleging tortious conversion of property
(Doc. 45, filed 4/1/19). Axis argues that the motion should
be granted because the claim is ancillary to the primary
action, in which Plaintiff Jacob K. Young
(“Young” or “Plaintiff”) asserts
claims against Axis for unpaid wages, overtime, and
commissions under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq.
Id. at 1. Axis asserts that the counterclaim relates
to personal property owned by Axis that Young possessed while
an employee of Axis and has refused to return.
attaches to the motion an amended response adding the
counterclaim pursuant to this Court's supplemenetal
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Doc. 45-1. In the
amended response Axis alleges that Young had offered to store
about $1, 400 worth of scrap bronze metal owned by Axis at
his personal residence until Axis needed it, but that Young
has refused to return the material since his termination by
Axis despite repeated requests that he do so. Id. at
objects to the motion to amend, arguing that the alleged
conversion of property is not sufficiently connected to the
events underlying his complaint to warrant exercise of this
Court's supplemental jurisdiction. Doc. 47. Specifically,
he argues that the proposed counterclaim stems from a
different set of operative facts because any conversion of
property occurred after Axis terminated his employment and
demanded the material be returned. Id. at 1-2. He
asserts that the alleged conversion has no bearing on whether
Young was properly paid and would merely delay and interfere
with the proceedings. Id. at 2 (citing Pioch v.
Ibex Eng'g Servs., 825 F.2d 1264 (11th Cir. 2016)).
initial matter, the federal claims brought by Young in his
original complaint under the FLSA clearly invoke this
Court's federal-question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 (conferring original jurisdiction for “all
civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws or
treaties of the United States”). Axis seeks to bring a
counterclaim for state-law conversion of scrap metal worth,
according to Axis, about $1, 400. Thus, the counterclaim does
not fall within this Court's jurisdiction over federal
claims under § 1331, nor within the Court's
diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, since the
amount in controversy falls well below $75, 000. See
28 U.S.C. § 1332 (conferring jurisdiction over
“all civil actions where the matter in controversy
exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000”). Accordingly,
Axis invokes this Court's supplemental jurisdiction in
asserting its counterclaim.
28 U.S.C. § 1367, the Court has supplemental
jurisdiction over all claims “so related to claims in
the action within [the Court's] original jurisdiction
that they form part of the same case or
controversy….” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
However, the Court may decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over a claim contemplated by subsection (a)
(1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law,
(2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or
claims over which the district court has original
(3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it
has original jurisdiction, or
(4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling
reasons for declining jurisdiction.
Id. § 1367(c).
Eleventh Circuit has explained, § 1367(a) sets out the
“permissible boundaries for the exercise of
supplemental jurisdiction; that is, it delineates the
power of the federal courts to hear supplemental
claims and claims against supplemental parties.”
Palmer v. Hosp. Auth. of Randolph Cty., 22 F.3d
1559, 1566 (11th Cir. 1994). Section 1367(c), on the other
hand, delineates avenues by which the federal court may
exercise its discretion not to hear a supplemental
claim, despite its power to do so. Id.
the Court must determine, first, whether it has the power to
hear the counterclaim as set out in § 1367(a). To
determine whether Axis' state law claim is “so
related” to the federal claims asserted in this case
that it forms part of the same case or controversy, the Court
examines “whether the claims arise from the same facts,
or involve similar occurrences, witnesses or evidence.”
Hudson v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.,90 F.3d 451, 455
(11th Cir.1996). In other words, the relevant question is
whether the state law counterclaim ...