United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER OF REMAND
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Darryl James' Motion to Remand.
(Doc. 5.) The Motion is now briefed (Docs. 5 and 7). After
careful consideration, the Motion to Remand is
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.” Ark.
Blue Cross & Blue Shield v. Little Rock Cardiology
Clinic, P.A., 551 F.3d 812, 816 (8th Cir. 2009).
“[F]ederal courts have an independent obligation to
ensure that they do not exceed the scope of their
jurisdiction[.]” Henderson ex rel. Henderson v.
Shinseki, 562 U.S. 428, 434 (2011). Civil actions may be
removed to federal court only if the action could have been
originally filed in federal court. See 28 U.S.C. §
1441(b); Cent. Iowa Power Co-op. v. Midwest Indep.
Transmission Sys. Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d 904, 912 (8th
Cir. 2009). A party seeking removal and opposing remand
carries the burden of establishing federal subject-matter
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. In re
Prempro Prods. Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d 613, 620 (8th Cir.
2010). Furthermore, any doubts about the propriety of removal
should be resolved in favor of remand. In re Bus.
Men's Assurance Co. of Am., 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th
Cir. 1993) (per curiam). “If at any time before final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c).
case was originally filed in state court on June 16, 2019.
Plaintiff asserts claims for discrimination in violation of
the Missouri Human Rights Act, as well claims for
workers' compensation discrimination. On October 17,
2019, Defendant Jackson County, Missouri removed the action
to this Court, arguing Plaintiff's claims arose under
federal law. In support of its argument, Defendant points to
a lone sentence in paragraph 9 of Plaintiff's complaint.
That paragraph reads, “Plaintiff's causes of action
are filed against [Defendants] pursuant to the Missouri Human
Rights Act … and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964.” (Doc. 1-1.)
Court finds it lacks subject matter jurisdiction and remand
is required. First, “[r]emoval based on
federal-question jurisdiction is governed by the
‘well-pleaded-complaint rule,' which provides that
federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is
presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint.” Cent. Iowa Power Co-op. v. Midwest
Indep. Transmission Sys. Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d 904,
912 (8th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). A plaintiff may
properly avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive reliance on
state law because the plaintiff is the master of their
complaint. Id. (citation omitted). Here, although
Plaintiff makes one, lone reference to Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, et seq., each individual count
designates a claim under Missouri law. (See Doc.
1-1.) As such, it appears Plaintiff's complaint does not
arise under federal law, and thus federal jurisdiction is
lacking. 28 U.S.C. § 1331; see also Hurt v. Dow
Chemical Co., 963 F.2d 1142, 1143 (8th Cir. 1992).
Plaintiff asserts his claims must be remanded because
Congress has categorically prohibited removal of state court
cases that arise under workmen's compensation laws. 28
U.S.C. § 1445(c). Plaintiff specifically points to
Humphrey v. Sequentia, Inc., 58 F.3d 1238, 1246 (8th
Cir. 1995), which held a plaintiff's claim for
retaliatory discharge under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 287.780
arose under Missouri's workers compensation laws and was
not removable under 28 U.S.C. § 1445(c). See also
Phillips v. Ford Motor Co., 83 F.3d 235, 236 n. 3 (8th
Cir. 1996) (noting “the district court lacked removal
jurisdiction by operation of 28 U.S.C. § 1445(c),
” where plaintiffs' claims included a claim for
retaliation and discrimination pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat.
§ 287.780.) Here, Plaintiff's claims include a claim
for discrimination under Mo. Rev. Sta. § 287.780. While
Plaintiff does not discuss why all claims arise under
Missouri Workers' Compensation Law, Defendant does not
rebut Plaintiff's assertion that his Workers'
Compensation claims bar revoval. Rather, Defendant merely
reiterates its argument that Plaintiff's claims invoke
federal question jurisdiction. (Doc. 7.) However, “[i]f
§ 1445(c) applies, a case is nonremovable even it if
presents a federal question[.]” Therefore, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1445(c), the Court finds jurisdiction is
lacking and will remand the case to state court.
both parties have requested attorney's fees and costs.
Courts should only award attorney's fees when “the
removing party lacked an objectively reasonable basis for
seeking removal.” Martin v. Franklin Capital
Corp., 546 U.S. 132, 141 (2005). Courts retain
discretion in determining whether attorney's fees should
be awarded. Id. The Court does not find Defendant
lacked an objectively reasonable basis for seeking removal
given Plaintiff's reference to a federal statute. In
addition, Defendant's argument that they should be
awarded fees because Plaintiff mentioned Title VII in his
complaint is without merit. Therefore, and after careful
consideration, the Court finds attorney fees are not
warranted for either party.
careful consideration, the Motion to Remand (Doc. 5) is
GRANTED. The parties' requests ...