United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S PROPOSED
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION
HONORABLE MARTHA VÁZQU UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's objections
(Doc. 9) to Magistrate Judge Yarbrough's Proposed
Findings and Recommended Disposition (PFRD) (Doc. 8). In his
PFRD, Magistrate Judge Yarbrough recommended concluding that
because no federal cause of action was asserted on the face
of Plaintiff's Complaint and because Plaintiff's
claims do not implicate substantial questions of federal law,
this case must be remanded to state court for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction. Doc. 8. For the following reasons, the
Court rejects Defendant's Objections (Doc. 9) to
Magistrate Judge Yarbrough's PFRD and therefore adopts
the PFRD. The Court will accordingly remand this matter to
removed this matter to federal court on November 27, 2017.
Doc. 1. Defendant alleged in the Notice of Removal that
Plaintiff's claims arose under the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et. seq.
Doc. 1. On December 5, 2017, Magistrate Judge Yarbrough
issued an Order to Show Cause concluding that Plaintiff's
claims do not arise under the ADA and directing Defendant to
show cause as to why the case should not be remanded due to a
lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Doc. 4. Defendant
responded on December 18, 2017, and contended that the case
was appropriately removed. Doc. 6. Magistrate Judge Yarbrough
thereafter filed the PFRD addressing Defendant's
objections to the Order to Show Cause and recommending that
this case be remanded. Doc. 8. The Court now addresses
Defendant's objections to the PFRD. Doc. 9.
first objection takes issue with Magistrate Judge
Yarbrough's recommended finding that Plaintiff did not
assert a cause of action under the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et. seq.
Doc. 9 at 1. Defendant contends that this finding is
erroneous because Plaintiff filed a charge with the EEOC and
because Plaintiff alleged in his Complaint that he was
terminated because of his disability.
Court first notes that Defendant's contention regarding
the allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint is misleading.
In briefing, Defendant quotes Plaintiff's Complaint
thusly: “Plaintiff was terminated because of his
disability. [ADA].” Doc. 9 at 2. Plaintiff's
Complaint, however, only states that “he was terminated
because of his disability.” Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 5.
Although the Court recognizes that bracketed material often
indicates an alteration to the quoted material,
Defendant's addition of “[ADA]” is misleading
when the issue being determined is whether Plaintiff pled a
cause of action under the ADA. In fact, the need for
Defendant to add this bracketed material seems to confirm
Judge Yarbrough's recommended finding that no reference
to the ADA appears anywhere in Plaintiff's Complaint.
based on the Court's own review of Plaintiff's
Complaint, the Court agrees with Magistrate Judge
Yarbrough's PFRD and accordingly rejects Defendant's
contention on this point. As Magistrate Judge Yarbrough has
repeatedly explained, for purposes of federal question
jurisdiction, “[a] case arises under federal law if its
well-pleaded complaint establishes either that federal law
creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff's right
to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial
question of federal law.” Morris v. City of
Hobart, 39 F.3d 1105, 1111 (10th Cir. 1994) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Plaintiff's Complaint indicates
that he is attempting to appeal an order of non-determination
by the Department of Workforce Solutions pursuant to NMSA
1978, § 28-1-13. Plaintiff further asserts two state law
causes of action. The first claim is under NMSA 1978, §
28-1-7(I) for terminating Plaintiff due to his disability and
the second is under the same provision for retaliation. Doc.
1-1 at ¶¶ 8, 9.
of these are federal claims.
the allegation that Defendant argues evidences
Plaintiff's claim under the ADA does not even appear in
the “Causes of Action” section of his Complaint
but is instead set out in the factual background of the
Complaint. Thus, even construing the allegation as a
reference to the ADA would not necessarily lead to the
conclusion that Plaintiff was asserting a cause of action
under the ADA. Regardless, for the reasons above, the Court
does not construe it as a reference to the ADA and the Court
cannot make it any clearer for Defendant that neither
Plaintiff's allegation that he was terminated due to a
disability nor the fact that he filed a charge with the EEOC
changes the fact that Plaintiff did not ultimately bring a
cause of action under the ADA. The Court accordingly agrees
with Magistrate Judge Yarbrough that no federal cause of
action is pled on the face of Plaintiff's Complaint.
it is similarly immaterial to the Court's determination
of jurisdiction whether or not Plaintiff appropriately
exhausted his state or federal administrative remedies. The
determination of whether Plaintiff's state law causes of
action are viable in the event he failed to appropriately
exhaust state law administrative remedies has no bearing on
whether this Court has jurisdiction. Likewise, even if
Plaintiff appropriately exhausted federal administrative
remedies but declined to assert a cause of action under the
ADA, the Court still does not have jurisdiction because
Plaintiff did not assert those claims. As Magistrate Judge
Yarbrough explained, the Court cannot construe
Plaintiff's Complaint as containing a cause of action he
did not assert regardless of the administrative steps
Plaintiff complied with to assert the cause of action.
See Doc. 8 at 3 (citing Heckelmann v. Piping
Companies, Inc., 904 F.Supp. 1257, 1260 (N.D. Okla.
1995). The Court therefore rejects Defendant's objection
on this point.
the Court rejects Defendant's objection regarding
Magistrate Judge Yarbrough's recommended conclusion that
a substantial question of federal law is not presented in
Plaintiff's Complaint. Defendant's objections on this
point remain premised on his contention that either the EEOC
charge constitutes a federal cause of action or that
Plaintiff cannot appropriately assert the state law causes of
action because he failed to exhaust his state administrative
remedies. See Doc. 9 at 3-5. As concluded above,
neither of these contentions has merit in regard to the
determination of federal jurisdiction in this case.
the Court rejects Defendant's objections. For the reasons
stated in both Magistrate Judge Yarbrough's Order to Show
Cause (Doc. 4) and his PFRD (Doc. 8), the Court therefore
concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff did not assert a cause
of action under the ADA as alleged by Defendant in its Notice
of Removal (Doc. 1). Furthermore, the resolution of
Plaintiff's state law causes of action does not
necessarily depend on the resolution of a substantial
question of federal law. Accordingly, this matter must be
IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
Court ADOPTS Magistrate Judge Yarbrough's Proposed
Findings and Recommended Disposition (Doc. 8).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), this matter is hereby
remanded to the Second ...