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Six v. City of Moriarty

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

June 28, 2018

MICHAEL SIX, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF MORIARTY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND OPINION

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Remand Case to State District Court, (Doc. 21); Defendant's Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, (Doc. 26); and Plaintiff's Motion to Correct Caption on Amended Complaint, (Doc. 22). These motions are fully briefed. Having considered the briefing, and the applicable law, and for the reasons stated on the record at the June 28, 2018, telephonic hearing, the Court denies the Motion to Remand; denies the Motion to Strike; and grants the Motion to Correct Caption. For the reasons stated below, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims presented in the Amended Complaint and, therefore, remands the case to state court.

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff originally filed his complaint on October 17, 2017, in the Seventh Judicial District Court, State of New Mexico, D-722-CV-2017-225. His claims include “Count 1-Abuse of Process;” “Count 2- Negligent Hiring, Training, Supervision;” “Count 3- Battery;” and “Count 4- Infliction of Emotional Distress.” (Doc. 1) at 6-11. On November 8, 2017, Defendants filed their Notice of Removal of Cause, (Doc. 1), asserting federal question subject matter jurisdiction, stating specifically, “The Complaint asserts claims or rights arising under the Constitution of the United States.” Id. at 6, ¶ 1.

         On January 9, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 17), arguing for, inter alia, dismissal of all claims against them based on federal qualified immunity of Defendant Mark Satterfield. Instead of responding to the Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on January 20, 2018, and in doing so, attempts to clarify he is not bringing any federal claims. (Doc. 20). On January 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time, (Doc. 23), to respond to the Motion for Summary Judgment, and he filed the Motion to Remand. On February 9, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, arguing Plaintiff failed to seek Defendants' or the Court's permission to amend the complaint.

         In his Motion to Remand, Plaintiff notes that the Amended Joint Status Report, (Doc. 14), “allowed” Plaintiff to file an amended complaint no later than January 22, 2018. He also states in the Motion to Remand, “Plaintiff does not seek relief under the United States Constitution or any laws or statutes of the United State[sic], ” and “there are no Federal Claims or Federal questions involved in this case.” (Doc. 21) at ¶¶ 4 and 5. Defendants respond that the Motion to Remand is untimely and that the Amended Complaint “still contains federal constitutional claims … under the guise” of Plaintiff's state law claims. (Doc. 25) at 1. Plaintiff replies that “there are no federal issues alleged in the [sic] either the Original or Amended Complaint” and that statements in the Original Complaint were “inadvertently included” and he “did not intend to pursue any federal claims or issues.” (Doc. 32) at ¶¶ 4 and 5.

         II. Analysis

         A. Motion to Remand

         1. Timeliness of the Motion to Remand

         As a preliminary matter, the Court considers whether Plaintiff's Motion to Remand is untimely. “A motion to remand the case on the basis of any defect other than lack of subject matter jurisdiction must be made within 30 days after the filing of the notice of removal under section 1446(a).” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Defendants filed the Notice of Removal on November 8, 2017, and Plaintiff did not file his Motion to Remand until January 26, 2018, clearly more than 30 days after the filing of the Notice of Removal. Nevertheless, the Court shall at any time before final judgment remand based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Id.; FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215, 231 (1990) (“federal courts are under an independent obligation to examine their own jurisdiction”).

         In his Motion to Remand, Plaintiff does not expressly request remand based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Yet, he states in the Motion to Remand that he did not bring any federal claims or federal questions in his original complaint. Additionally, in his reply to the Motion to Remand, Plaintiff maintains he has not alleged any federal issues in either the original complaint or the Amended Complaint, but he concedes the original complaint states, “This action is brought pursuant to the Constitution of the United States, the New Constitution, statutes of the United States and the State of New Mexico, and the New Mexico State Tort Claims Act NMRA [sic] 1978, §§ 41-4-1 et seq.” (Doc. 32) at ¶¶ 4 and 6. As to this last statement, Plaintiff states he “inadvertently” included it in the original complaint. Id. at ¶ 5.

         It follows that if Plaintiff argues he did not bring any federal claims in the original complaint and, therefore, remand is warranted, he is arguing this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and, for that reason, the Court should remand the case. Under these circumstances, the Court construes Plaintiff's Motion to Remand as based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff, thus, timely filed the Motion to Remand.

         2. Federal Question Jurisdiction and Removal

         “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. When a plaintiff files a case in state court alleging a federal question, and subject to the procedural requirements in 28 U.S.C. § 1441 et seq., a defendant may timely remove the case to federal court. Removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) provides,

Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the ...

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