United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs First Amended Motion
to Remand (ECF No. 29). This matter is fully briefed and
ready for disposition.
Danielle Mitchell ("Mitchell") is an
African-American female. Mitchell is former employee at the
Starbucks coffee shop in the Marriott Grand Hotel in St.
Louis, Missouri. Mitchell began working at the Strabucks on
May 15, 2007. In April 2013, Mitchell took time off to care
for her disabled mother. In June 2013, Mitchell returned to
work. In December 2013, Mitchell took another round of leave
to care for her mother. In June 2014, Mitchell returned to
her position at Starbucks.
Mitchell returned to her position in June 2014, she alleges
that she experienced discrimination and intolerable workplace
conditions. Mitchell's hours were significantly reduced.
Mitchell alleges that her managers became to harass her about
her absences, calling her a "faker" and a
"liar." Mitchell reported the harassment to human
resources. In response, Mitchell alleges she was written up
alleges that she experienced unfair treatment and harassment
until she was terminated for a cash register oversight.
Mitchell claims that her employment was terminated even
though management had been more tolerant of other employees
for similar mistakes. Mitchell alleges that, prior to her
termination, the majority of the employees at this Starbucks
were African-American, but the majority of its employees are
April 26, 2017, Mitchell filed her Petition for Damages in
the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri against
Marriott International Inc. d/b/a St. Louis Marriott Grand
Hotel, Denise Shell, Vera Sostre, Rebecca Crist, Melissa
Mazza, Devon Jarrell, and Noureddine Laasri (collectively,
"Defendants"), alleging disability discrimination,
racial and color discrimination, and retaliation. On June 26,
2017, Defendants removed this action to this Court, citing
federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1331.
(ECF No. 1). On September 29, 2017, Mitchell filed her First
Amended Motion for Remand (ECF No. 29), asserting that
federal question jurisdiction did not arise under her First
Amended Petition for Damages (ECF No. 27).
MOTION TO REMAND
Standard of Review
as the parties invoking federal jurisdiction, bear the burden
of proving that all prerequisites to jurisdiction are
satisfied. Green v. Ameritrade, Inc., 279 F.3d 590,
596 (8th Cir. 2002). Removal statutes are strictly construed,
In re Business Men's Assurance Co. of America,
992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir. 1993), and any doubts about the
propriety of removal are to be resolved in favor of remand.
Central la. Power Coop. v. Midwest Indep. Transmission
Sys. Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d 904, 912 (8th Cir. 2009).
While a defendant has a statutory right to remove in certain
situations, the plaintiff is still the master of his own
claim. See Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S.
386, 391 & n.7 (1987); see also Burns v. Windsor Ins.
Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994)
("Defendant's right to remove and plaintiffs right
to choose his forum are not on equal footing";
consequently, "uncertainties are resolved in favor of
remand."); Simpson v. Energy Petroleum Co., No.
4:17-CV-2501 CAS, 2017 WL 4923574, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 31,
"mere presence of a federal issue in a state cause of
action does not automatically confer federal-question
jurisdiction." Merrell Dow Pharms. Inc. v.
Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 813 (1986); see also Gully
v. First Nat'l Bank, 299 U.S. 109 (1936) ("Not
every question of federal law emerging in a suit is proof
that a federal law is the basis of the suit."). There is
a variety of federal jurisdiction known as "arising
under" jurisdiction, under which "in certain cases
federal-question jurisdiction will lie over state-law claims
that implicate significant federal issues." Grable
& Sons Metal Products, Inc. v. Darue Engineering &
Manufacturing, 545 U.S.308, 312 (2005). "The
doctrine captures the commonsense notion that a federal court
ought to be able to hear claims recognized under state law
that nonetheless turn on substantial questions of federal
law, and thus justify resort to the experience, solicitude,
and hope of uniformity that a federal forum offers on federal
issues[.]" Id. The critical "question is,
does a state-law claim necessarily raise a stated federal
issue, actually disputed and substantial, which a
federal forum may entertain without disturbing any
congressionally approved balance of federal and state
judicial responsibilities." Grable, 545 U.S. at
314 (emphasis added).
Supreme Court has explained that Grable occupies a
special and small category of cases permitting removal where
federal question jurisdiction is predicated on the centrality
of a federal issue, and emphasized that it takes more than a
federal element to open the arising under door."
Simpson, 2017 WL 4923574, at *4 (citing Empire
Healthchoice Assurance, Inc. v. McVeigh, 547 U.S. 677,
699 & n.5, 701 (2006) (internal citations omitted)). It
was central to Grable's holding that the federal
question at issue was "substantial" and a
"nearly 'pure issue of law, ' " and that
its resolution was "both dispositive of the case and
would be controlling in numerous other
cases." Empire, 547 U.S. at 700 (quoting
Grable, 545 U.S. at 313). "Thus, the small
category described by Grable is limited to cases
where (1) a state law claim 'necessarily raise[s] a
stated federal issue, ' (2) the federal issue is
'actually disputed, ' (3) the federal issue is
'substantial, ' and (4) a 'federal forum may
entertain' the state law claim 'without disturbing
any congressionally approved balance of federal and state
judicial responsibilities.'" Simpson, 2017
WL 4923574, at *4 (quoting Grable, 545 U.S. at 314).
filed a Notice of Removal in the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Missouri on June 21, 2017,
asserting that Mitchell's claim is "based on a
federal cause of action." Defendants removed this action
because they alleged that the Petition clearly presented
federal question jurisdiction pursuant to Family Medical
Leave Act ("FMLA"). (ECF No. 1). In the
alternative, Defendants asserted that Mitchell's relief
depended on the resolution ...