United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr. United States District Judge.
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (Doc.
first filed a petition in state court on January 16, 2017.
That petition mentioned the FMLA sixteen times, and made a
claim for FMLA retaliation. Defendant removed that case,
which because Case No. 17-0130-FJG. Plaintiff subsequently
dismissed that lawsuit without prejudice.
February 24, 2017, plaintiff filed another Petition in the
Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. Thereafter, on
April 5, 2017, defendant removed the second case to federal
court, asserting that federal question jurisdiction was again
present. On April 6, 2017, plaintiff filed an amended
complaint as a matter of right in federal court.
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint generally alleges that
plaintiff is disabled because she suffers from depression and
anxiety. Plaintiff alleges that her therapist suggested she
take time off work in January 2016 to recover from her
depression and anxiety, and for plaintiff to attend an
intensive outpatient program. Plaintiff alleges she informed
the defendant employer of these facts, but decided to delay
the start of her outpatient program until February 2016 so
that she could train her replacement. Plaintiff, an employee
of defendant for many years, alleges that she received her
first discipline from defendant in February 2016. Plaintiff
began her outpatient program in late February 2016, and
returned to work on March 29, 2016. On April 4, 2016,
plaintiff was fired.
plaintiffs amended complaint, she makes three claims related
to violations of the Missouri Human Rights Act: (1) Failure
to Accommodate violation under Mo. Rev. Stat. 213.010 et
seq.; (2) Disability Discrimination violation under Mo.
Rev. Stat. 213.010 et seq.; and (3) Retaliation violation
under Mo. Rev. Stat. 213.010 et seq. On April 10, 2017,
plaintiff filed the present motion to remand, arguing that
the amended complaint does not state a federal question, and
given that diversity jurisdiction is not present, this Court
has no jurisdiction over her complaint.
argues, in response, that plaintiff has stated a claim for
retaliation under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA),
despite the act not being mentioned by name in the amended
motion to remand will be granted if the district court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The
removing defendant bears the burden of showing that federal
subject matter jurisdiction exists. Hale v. Cottrell,
Inc., No. 11-CV-01273-SOW, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189735,
*3 (W.D. Mo. Apr. 17, 2012). Any doubts about federal
jurisdiction should be resolved in favor of state court
jurisdiction. Id Federal jurisdiction only exists
“when a federal question is presented on the face of
the plaintiffs properly pleaded complaint” or when a
federal statute “preempt[s] a field of law so
completely that state law claims are considered to be
converted into federal causes of action.” Id.
at *4 (quoting Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386,
392 (1997) and Gaming Corp. of Am. v. Dorsey &
Whitney, 88 F.3d 536, 543 (8th Cir. 1996)).
of a complaint setting forth state-law claims is proper under
the well-pleaded complaint rule where (1) federal law
completely preempts a plaintiffs state-law claim, or (2) an
issue of federal law is a necessary and a central element of
plaintiff's state law claims. Mabe v. Golden Living
Ctr.-Bransom, No. 07-03268-CV-S-FJG, 2007 WL 3326857, at
*3 (W.D. Mo. Nov. 6, 2007) (citing Gaming Corp. of Am. v.
Dorsey & Whitney, 88 F.3d 536, 542 (8th Cir. 1996),
and Bellido-Sullivan v. American Int'l Group,
Inc., 123 F.Supp.2d 161, 164 (S.D.N.Y. 2000)). “A
plaintiff cannot thwart the removal of a case by
inadvertently, mistakenly or fraudulently concealing the
federal question that would necessarily have appeared if the
complaint had been well pleaded.” Id.
argues that this case should be remanded because
plaintiff's claim arises solely under the MHRA.
Specifically, plaintiff indicates that her request for time
off to deal with her disability is a request for
accommodation under the MHRA, not a claim under the FMLA.
Plaintiff argues that the type of leave requested should not
operate to convert a properly pled MHRA claim into a federal
argues the plaintiff's original petition shows her true
intention, to state a claim under the FMLA. Defendant argues
that in one case from the Eastern District of Missouri, such
an artful attempt to hide an FMLA claims was found to be
improper. See Anderson v. Shade Tree Services, No.
4:12CV01066 ERW, 2012 WL 3288120, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 10,
2012). Defendant further argues that resolution of
plaintiff's complaint requires interpretation of federal
law, i.e., whether defendant violated the FMLA.
Court has already resolved this same issue nearly ten years
ago. In Mabe v. Golden Living Ctr.-Bransom, No.
07-03268-CV-S-FJG, 2007 WL 3326857 (W.D. Mo. Nov. 6, 2007),
this Court found that the mere mention of the word
“FMLA” in the plaintiff's complaint did not
convert plaintiff's otherwise well-pled state law causes
of action into a federal question. As noted by several other
courts addressing this issue, the language of the FMLA does
not indicate an intent by congress to completely displace
ordinarily applicable state law, and therefore the complete
preemption exception does not apply. Id. at *3;
Bellido-Sullivan v. Am. Int'l Grp., Inc., 123 F.Supp.2d
161, 162 (S.D. N.Y. 2000); Wulfekuhle v. Planned