Love v. Town of Ariton et al

Filing 18

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER that all federal claims in Count VI are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE; that all remaining claims in this lawsuit are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE; that the Clerk is DIRECTED to terminate this case from this Court's docket; that 4 MOTION to Dismiss, 15 Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint and 17 MOTION to Dismiss are DENIED as MOOT. Signed by Hon. Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller on 3/23/2010. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Appeals Checklist)(cc, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA S O U T H E R N DIVISION J O N A T H A N TYLER LOVE, P L A IN T IF F , v. T O W N OF ARITON, et al., D EFEN D A N TS. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) C A S E NO. 1:10-cv-105-MEF (W O - Do Not Publish) M E M O R A N D U M OPINION AND ORDER O n January 12, 2010, Plaintiff filed suit against the Town of Ariton ("Ariton"), Mike C o w a rts ("Cowarts"), and several fictitious defendants in the Circuit Court of Dale County, A la b a m a . Plaintiff's Complaint set forth his claims in six counts: (1) Count I - Assault; (2) C o u n t II - Negligence; (3) Count III - Negligent Hiring, Training and Supervision; (4) Count IV - Deprivation of Civil Rights Under Color of State Law, Denial of Due Process; (5) Count V - False Arrest/False Imprisonment; and (6) Count VI - Fictitious Defendants, a claim w h ic h incorporates by reference all other claims set forth in the other counts against fictitious d e f e n d a n ts . On February 9, 2010, Ariton and Cowarts timely and properly removed this action f ro m state court to this Court. In so doing, they invoked this Court's subject matter ju ris d ic tio n over the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331 because Count IV of the Complaint s e t forth a claim pursuant to federal law, specifically, a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 f o r an alleged violation of the Plaintiff's rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.1 Although Defendants failed to make any re f e re n c e to a basis for this Court's exercise of subject matter jurisdiction over the other c la im s set forth in the Complaint which arise under Alabama law, the Court notes that it has s u p p le m e n ta l jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1367, over the claims in the Complaint w h ic h arise under Alabama law. At the time of removal, Cowarts and Ariton also elected to file a motion to dismiss ra th e r than to file an answer. See Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #4) filed on F e b ru a ry 9, 2010. The Court directed Plaintiff to file a response to the motion to dismiss by n o later than February 25, 2010. Rather than complying with this Order in a timely fashion, P la in tif f 's counsel filed an Amended Complaint on February 26, 2010.2 By that amendment, P la in tif f dismissed Count IV, the only claim in this action over which this Court had subject m a tte r jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331. On that same day, Plaintiff also filed a m o tio n seeking an extension of time for his response to the motion to dismiss. See Doc. # 1 0 . Plaintiff represented that this motion was not opposed, and the Court granted the re q u e s te d extension of time. The Court also directed the parties to submit briefs addressing w h e th e r this Court should continue to exercise supplement jurisdiction over this action. Ariton and Cowarts now contend that this Court also had original jurisdiction over th is action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1343(a)(3), however, Ariton and Cowarts made no m e n tio n of this ground for jurisdiction in their Notice of Removal. Plaintiff did not seek leave of Court or opposing counsel to file this Amended C o m p la in t. Under the most recent amendment to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), the C o u rt is satisfied that Plaintiff is within the period of time for amending the Complaint as a m a tte r of course without leave of Court. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1)(B). 2 2 1 Cowarts and Ariton urged this Court to continue to exercise jurisdiction over this action on a variety of grounds. Plaintiff asked this Court to decline to exercise jurisdiction over this a c tio n . A . Pendency of Federal Claims After Amendment of the Complaint A rito n and Cowarts contend that Count VI of the original complaint, which was not a lte re d by the amendment of the Complaint, contains federal claims over which this Court s till has original jurisdiction. All claims set forth in Count VI are brought against unnamed, u n id e n tif ie d "fictitious." This pleading practice is permissible under the Alabama Rules of C iv il Procedure. The Court finds that there is no fictitious party practice in federal courts. See, e.g., Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a); New v. Sports & Recreation, Inc., 114 F.3d 1092, 1094 n.1 (1 1 th Cir. 1997); Harris v. Palm Harbor Homes, Inc., 198 F. Supp. 2d 1303, 1304 n.6 (M.D. A la . 2002); Edwards v. Alabama Dep't of Corr., 81 F. Supp. 2d 1242, 1257 (M.D. Ala. 2 0 0 0 ) . Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that all federal claims in Count VI are D IS M IS S E D WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Having so ordered, the Court further finds that it h a s now dismissed all claims over which it has original subject matter jurisdiction. B. Supplement Jurisdiction A s previously explained, in addition to his claims pursuant to federal law, Plaintiff b rin g s a number of claims pursuant to Alabama law. This Court has supplemental subject m a tte r jurisdiction over these claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1367. The statutory provision a d d re s s in g supplemental jurisdiction provides that 3 (a) Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) or as expressly p ro v id e d otherwise by Federal statute, in any civil action of w h ic h the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district c o u rts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims th a t are so related to claims in the action within such original ju ris d ic tio n that they form part of the same case or controversy u n d e r Article III of the United States Constitution. 28 U.S.C. 1367(a). Thus, Section 1367(a) provides a basis for this Court to exercise ju ris d ic tio n over Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Alabama law because it has jurisdiction over h is claims pursuant to federal law. However, the requirement contained in 1367(a) that this C o u rt exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims is subject to c e rta in enumerated instances in which it is appropriate for a federal court to decline to e x e rc ise its supplemental jurisdiction over a case. Those circumstances are set forth in S e c tio n 1367(c), which provides that T h e district courts may decline to exercise supplemental ju ris d ic tio n over a claim under subsection (a) if (1 ) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law, (2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or c la im s over which the district court has original jurisdiction, (3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction, or (4 ) in exceptional circumstances, there are other c o m p e llin g reasons for declining jurisdiction. 2 8 U.S.C. 1367(c). The Court finds that claims before this Court pursuant to 1367(a) complex issues of Alabama law. Additionally, all federal claims over which this Court had o rig in a l jurisdiction have now been dismissed. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1367(c)(1) & (3), the C o u rt will exercise its discretion to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over 4 Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Alabama law. All of Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Alabama la w will accordingly be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. This dismissal should not w o rk to Plaintiff's disadvantage should he elect to bring suit in state court because the period o f limitations for any of these claims is tolled during the pendency of this action. See 28 U .S .C . 1367(d). For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ORDERED that all remaining c la im s in this lawsuit are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE and the Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to terminate this case from this Court's docket. It is further ORDERED that th e Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 4), the Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint (Doc. # 15) f ile d on March 8, 2010, and the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 17) filed on March 11, 2010 are D E N IE D as MOOT. DONE this the 23 rd day of March, 2010. /s/ Mark E. Fuller CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 5

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