United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Michael F. Urbanski, Chief United States District Judge.
matter comes before the court on plaintiffs First Motion to
Remand to State Court, ECF No. 7, in which plaintiff requests
that the court remand her case to state court for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.
instituted this action in the Circuit Court for the County of
Montgomery. Plaintiffs original complaint (the
"Complaint") levied six counts against defendants,
two of which bear mentioning here: (1) Count II, which
alleges violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process
Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution;
and (2) Count III, which alleges a violation of the Takings
Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States
Constitution. The other counts pled various Virginia
common-law or statutory claims.
removed the case, alleging that this court had original
jurisdiction over plaintiffs state complaint based on 28
U.S.C. § 1331. Almost a month after defendant removed
the case, Plaintiff moved to amend her Complaint. In her
motion, plaintiff represented that "counsel for . . .
defendants has communicated his consent... to plaintiffs
amending the complaint." ECF No. 3, at 2. The court
granted the motion, and plaintiff amended her complaint (the
"Amended Complaint"). The Amended Complaint
dismisses all federal claims and adds a claim under Virginia
Code § 15.2-1429.
parties do not dispute that the case was properly
removed. Because the case was properly removed and
the court has original jurisdiction over the federal claims
in the Complaint, the court may exercise "supplemental
jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related . . .
that they form part of the same case or controversy." 28
U.S.C. § 1367(a); see also United Mine Workers of
Am. v. Gibbs. 383 U.S. 715, 725 (1966) (claims are part
of the same case or controversy if they "derive from a
common nucleus of operative fact").
asks the court to remand her case back to state court because
her Amended Complaint no longer contains federal claims.
While a court may remand a case after all federal
claims are extinguished, "subject matter jurisdiction is
not divested from the district court when the federal claims
are dismissed from the complaint." Harless v. CSX
Hotels, Inc.. 389 F.3d 444, 448 (4th Cir. 2004). A
court, in its discretion, "may decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction" it could otherwise exercise
if "the district court has dismissed all claims over
which it has original jurisdiction." 28 U.S.C. §
court should consider "the values of judicial economy,
convenience, fairness, and comity" in determining if it
should remand a case. Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v.
Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 (1988). The remand calculus
becomes more complicated when it appears that a plaintiff has
amended her complaint "to avoid federal court"
without having other "substantive reasons for amending
the pleadings." Harless, 389 F.3d at 448;
see also Cohill, 484 U.S. at 357 ("If the
plaintiff has attempted to manipulate the forum, the court
should take this behavior into account in determining whether
the balance of factors . . . support a remand in the
case."). Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has instructed
that attempted forum shopping "hardly justifies a
categorical prohibition on the remand of cases . . .
regardless of whether the plaintiff has attempted to
manipulate the forum and regardless of the other
circumstances in the case." Cohill, 484 U.S. at
plaintiff dismissed all of her federal claims in the Amended
Complaint, the case no longer involves a federal question.
The remaining causes of action are rooted purely in state and
local law. Defendants do not dispute that the Circuit Court
for the County of Montgomery, the Virginia state court from
which the case was removed, is better equipped to adjudicate
these claims. Nor is it clear that defendants could
reasonably make that argument, as the Supreme Court has
instructed federal courts that state courts are usually the
proper forum for adjudicating state claims. See
Gibbs, 383 U.S. at 726 ("Needless decisions of state law
should be avoided both as a matter of comity and to promote
justice between the parties, by procuring for them a
surer-footed reading of the applicable law.").
rely heavily on K.I.D. v. Jones. Civ. No.
3:14-cv-177-JAG (E.D. Va. April 8, 2014), aff'd sub
nom., K.I.D. v. Wilkins. 599 Fed.Appx. 118, 118
(4th Or. 2015) (mem.). K.I.D., however, actually
supports remand in this case. Of particular import, while
defendants are correct that the Fourth Circuit agreed that
"remand would not have served the interest of judicial
economy, " defendants ignore that the Fourth Circuit
based its conclusion heavily on the "significant action
[that] had taken place in federal court prior to filing of
the [remand] motion." K.I.D., 599 Fed.Appx. at
118 n.*. Unlike in K.I.D.. plaintiffs case is still
nascent. The court has taken no action in the case save for
granting plaintiffs motion to amend. And while defendants
claim that their motion to dismiss "has been fully
briefed, " Defs.' Br. Opp'n Pl.'s Mot.
Remand, ECF No. 10, at 3, plaintiff has yet to file an
opposition, and the court has yet to rule on that motion.
the court is concerned that plaintiffs amendment amounts to
forum shopping, that concern is but one factor the court must
consider under Cohill when deciding whether to
remand the case. See Cohill. 484 U.S. at 357;
Green v. Bait. City Police Dep't. 2011 WL
335868, at *2 (D. Md. Jan. 31, 2011). Indeed, the Supreme
Court has counseled that if "federal claims are
dismissed before trial, . . . the state claims should be
dismissed as well." Gibbs, 383 U.S. at 726. The court
has balanced the Cohill factors, and finds ...