United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND
matter is before the Court on both Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss [Doc. 6] as well as Plaintiff Tina
Diaz's Motion to Remand [Doc. 10]. The Court has
reviewed both motions, as well as all of the briefs and
exhibits filed by the parties relating to those motions.
Because the Plaintiff argues that the Defendants lacked a
reasonable basis for removal of this case to federal district
court, the Court concludes that her motion should be denied.
The Plaintiff's own complaint suggests on its face that
she is asserting claims under federal law. Nevertheless, in
both her motion to remand and her response to the motion to
dismiss, Plaintiff clarifies that she is not, in fact,
bringing any federal claims. Accordingly, the Court will
grant the Defendants' motion to dismiss in part with
regard to Plaintiff's federal claims, and decline to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state
law claims. As a result of this decision, the Court will
remand the remaining state claims to state district court.
complaint, Plaintiff Tina Diaz (“Diaz”), alleges
that her employer, Defendant Lordsburg Municipal School
District, wrongfully terminated her employment. On June 27,
2017, Diaz filed her complaint in the Sixth Judicial District
Court, County of Hidalgo, State of New Mexico. See
Doc. 1-1 at 7. On July 26, 2017, the Defendants removed the
case to this federal district court on the grounds that it
asserts a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Doc.
1 at ¶ 3.
Motion to Remand
moves to remand the case on the grounds that she has not pled
any federal cause of action, and therefore this Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction over her claims. Based on this
alleged improper removal, she seeks attorney's fees and
costs incurred in pursuing remand. Defendants, on the other
hand, point to several examples from Diaz's complaint
that could reasonably be construed as asserting claims under
federal law. However, in her briefs addressing both the
motion to remand and the motion to dismiss, Diaz now
clarifies that she does not intend to assert any federal
the well-pleaded complaint rule, in order to invoke federal
question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and thus to
be removable on that basis, a federal question must appear on
the face of the plaintiff's complaint. Hansen v.
Harper Excavating, Inc., 641 F.3d 1216, 1220 (10th Cir.
2011); see also Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482
U.S. 386, 392 (1987) (noting that the well-pleaded complaint
rule “makes the plaintiff the master of the claim; he
or she may avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive reliance
on state law”).
Diaz's complaint contains statements that suggest she
intended to assert one or more federal causes of action. Diaz
alleges that her complaint is based upon violations of
“both state and federal law.” Doc. 1-1 at 8 of
34. Later in the document, she invokes “confusing state
and federal chapters, sections,
subsections-regulating wages, unemployment benefits,
workplace injuries, medical leave, employee retirement plans,
discrimination, union activity, workplace privacy.”
Id. at 31 of 34, ¶ 67 (emphasis added). Diaz
avers that she “has been denied her Due Process Clause
of the Fourteenth Amendment.' Id.. at 33 of 34,
¶ 80. Plaintiff also alleges in her Complaint that she
has shown a prima facie case of discrimination under the
standards of Hinds v. Sprint/United Mgmt. Co., 523
F.3d 1187, 1202 (10th Cir. 2008), a federal circuit court of
appeals decision discussing an age discrimination claim
brought under the federal Age Discrimination Employment Act
(ADEA). Id. at 32-33 of 34, ¶ 77. All of this
further suggests that Diaz was asserting a claim under
federal law. Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that
a reasonable person would believe, based on the face of
Diaz's complaint, that she was asserting a federal claim.
Accordingly, the removal was not improper, and Diaz's
motion to remand will be denied.
the Court will, in fact, remand this case for other
reasons discussed below, it will not award Diaz any
attorney's fees that she has incurred as a result of the
removal. When remanding an action to state court, district
courts “may require payment of just costs and any
actual expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as a
result of the removal, ” see 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c),
but “only when the removing party lacked an objectively
reasonable basis for seeking removal.” Martin v.
Franklin Capital Corp., 546 U.S. 132, 141 (2005)
(emphasis added). If “an objectively reasonable basis
exists, fees should be denied.” Id. As
explained above, the removal was objectively reasonable, and
there is no basis for an award of fees.
Motion to Dismiss
their motion to dismiss, Defendants have surmised that Diaz
is asserting assorted claims under state and federal law as
follows: (1) disability discrimination under the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA) (42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et
seq.) and the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA) (N.M. Stat.
Ann. §§ 28-1-1 et seq.); (2) retaliation arising
from alleged disability discrimination under the ADA and the
NMHRA; (3) age discrimination under the Age Discrimination
Employment Act (ADEA) (29 U.S.C.§ 621 et seq.) and the
NMHRA; (4) denial of federal due process rights pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on Defendant's alleged
failure to explain the implications of Plaintiff's
transfer to an at will job around November 2012 and lack of a
meaningful hearing to justify termination on or about May 13,
2016. See Doc. 6 at 4 of 13. Defendants then argue
that all of Diaz's claims should be dismissed for failure
to exhaust administrative remedies, failure to state a claim,
or as untimely under the applicable statute of limitations.
response to the motion [Doc. 12], Diaz states that she is not
asserting any claims under the ADA, the ADEA, or the United
light of the foregoing, the Court will grant Defendants'
motion to dismiss in part as to all of Diaz's claims
under federal law, which will be dismissed with prejudice.
The Court does not reach, and expresses no opinion regarding,
the motion to dismiss as it pertains to Diaz's state law
Declining to Exercise ...