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Rogers v. Los Lunas Public Schools

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

August 10, 2018

JULIE ROGERS, Plaintiff,
v.
LOS LUNAS PUBLIC SCHOOLS, ROBERT FERREYA, Individually and in his official capacity, and MELISSA MOORE, Individually and in her official capacity, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint and Motion to Remand, filed on April 3, 2018 (the “Motion”) (Doc. 5). Defendant filed its Response in Partial Opposition to the Motion on April 17, 2018 (Doc. 7). Plaintiff filed her Reply brief on May 1, 2018 (Doc. 14). Having thoroughly reviewed the parties' submissions and the relevant law, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Motion to Amend is well taken and is granted. The Court further uses its discretion to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's remaining state law claims for the reasons stated herein. As such, Plaintiff's Motion to Remand is also well taken and will be granted upon Plaintiff's filing of her Amended Complaint.

         Background

         This case originated from a complaint for personal injury filed on October 19, 2016, in state court in the Thirteenth Judicial District of New Mexico, under the title Julie Rogers v. Los Lunas Public Schools, D-1329-CV-2016-01568. Defendant Los Lunas Public Schools filed an Answer to the Complaint on December 5, 2016. (Doc. 3). The parties in the state court action engaged in discovery over the next year, including taking Plaintiff's deposition. D-1329-CV-2015-01568 (Doc. 6-1). Los Lunas Public Schools filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on October 2, 2017, in which it argues, inter alia, that Plaintiff's sole federal constitutional claim fails against it as a public entity, because Section 1983 affords no respondeat superior liability under Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978). (Doc. 6-1 at 31-71). After a hearing, the state court granted the motion in part and denied it in part on January 5, 2018. (Doc. 6-2 at 70-71). In the order, judgment was entered in favor of Defendant on Count I for False Charges, which included the sole federal constitutional claim in the Complaint, Count III, because there is no waiver of immunity under the New Mexico Torts Claims Act for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and Count VI for Punitive Damages. (Id.) Plaintiff moved to amend her Complaint in state court on December 4, 2017 to add two individual defendants, (Id. at 54-60), which the state court granted on February 15, 2018. (Id. at 83-84). Plaintiff filed the amended complaint on March 2, 2018. (Id. at 85-91).

         The individual defendants filed a Notice of Removal on March 6, 2018. (Doc. 1). In the Notice of Removal, Defendants contend that the “Complaint is subject to the jurisdiction of this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because Rogers asserts federal constitutional claims against Defendants Ferreya and Moore in their individual and official capacities.” (Id. at 2). Defendants then filed an Answer on March 15, 2018. (Doc. 3). The Court issued an Initial Scheduling Order, which was later vacated pursuant to Plaintiffs' unopposed motion on April 26, 2018. See (Doc. 4 [Initial Scheduling Order]; Doc. 12 [Motion to Vacate Initial Scheduling Order]; Doc. 13 [Order Granting Motion to Vacate]).

         Prior to the Initial Scheduling Order being entered, on April 3, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend Complaint and Motion to Remand. (Doc. 5). Plaintiff contends that the amended state court complaint only maintained a federal constitutional claim against the individual defendants by mistake, and seeks leave of the Court to amend the Complaint to withdraw the federal claim. (Id. at 2-3). Plaintiff filed her motion to amend only one month after the case was removed to federal court. This Court has taken no substantive action in this case thus far.

         Legal Standard

         A. Amendments of Pleadings

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15,

(1) [a] party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within:
(A) 21 days after serving it, or
(B) If the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.
(2) …In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.

         The purpose of Rule 15(a) is “to provide litigants ‘the maximum opportunity for each claim to be decided on its merits rather than on procedural niceties.'” Minter v. Prime Equip. Co., 451 F.3d 1196, 1204 (10th Cir. 2006) (quoting Hardin v. Manitowoc-Forsythe Corp., 691 F.2d 449, 456 (10th Cir. 1982). However, the Court may deny leave upon a showing of any of the following: “undue delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, bad faith or dilatory motive, failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, or futility of amendment.” Frank v. U.S. West, Inc., 3 F.3d 1357, 1365 (10th Cir. 1993).

         B. Remand and ...


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