Hayley et al v. Regions Bank
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER that Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand 6 is DENIED. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on 12/4/2012. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Appeals Checklist)(jg, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
THOMAS M. HAYLEY, AMY E.
HAYLEY, and HAYLEY FAMILY
CASE NO. 3:12-CV-437-WKW
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before the court is Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand. (Doc. # 6.) The parties fully
briefed the motion (Docs. # 6, 8 and 13), and the matter is ready for adjudication.
Based upon the arguments of counsel and the relevant law, Plaintiffs’ motion to
remand is due to be denied.
In November 2005, Plaintiff Thomas Hayley (“Mr. Hayley”) executed a line of
credit with Defendant secured by a mortgage on Plaintiffs’ lake home. (Doc. #1, Ex.
1 ¶ 4.) When it was approaching maturity, Mr. Hayley sought to renew the line of
credit but was apparently unable to do so. (Doc. # 1, Ex. 1 ¶ 10.) By March 2011, the
loan appeared on Mr. Hayley’s credit report as past due. (Doc. # 1, Ex. 1 ¶ 7.)
Plaintiffs brought suit in the Circuit Court of Tallapoosa County, Alabama, alleging
Defendant acted unlawfully in not disclosing to Plaintiffs that it would not renew the
loan and in reporting the loan to credit agencies. (Doc. # 1, Ex. 1.)
Plaintiffs raise state law causes of action for negligent or fraudulent
misrepresentation, suppression, defamation, and interference with business and
contractual relations. They also bring one federal claim, alleging that Defendant’s
conduct violated several provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”), entitling Plaintiffs to damages and attorney’s fees. (Doc. # 1, Ex. 1. ¶¶
27–29 (citing 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692d–1692g).) Defendant removed the action on the
grounds that Plaintiffs’ FDCPA claim arises under federal law and supplemental
jurisdiction exists over the state law claims.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal courts owe a “strict duty” to exercise the limited jurisdiction Congress
confers on them. Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 716 (1996); see also
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 357, 377 (1994) (remarking that
federal courts “possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute”). The
law favors remand where federal jurisdiction is not absolutely clear, and courts must
construe removal statutes narrowly. Miedema v. Maytag Corp., 450 F.3d 1322, 1329
(11th Cir. 2006).
District courts enjoy original, so-called federal question jurisdiction over “all
civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28
U.S.C. § 1331. Where federal law creates the cause of action, the matter “arises
under” federal law. Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S.
1, 8–9 (1983); Jairath v. Dyer, 154 F.3d 1280, 1282 (11th Cir. 1998). Supplemental
jurisdiction exists for claims “so related” to the claims over which the court has
original jurisdiction “that they form part of the same case or controversy.” 28 U.S.C.
Plaintiffs argue to no avail that the court lacks federal question jurisdiction over
their FDCPA claim. The FDCPA provides for a private right of action under federal
law. 15 U.S.C. § 1692k. Federal law, therefore, creates one of the causes of action,
obligating the court to exercise its jurisdiction. See Quackenbush, 517 U.S. at 716.
Plaintiffs argue that they only “mention” a federal statute and that even their
FDCPA claim arises under state law. (Doc. # 13 ¶ 13.) Their complaint, however,
directly contradicts this argument, as Plaintiffs specifically allege that Defendant’s
conduct violated provisions of the FDCPA, entitling Plaintiffs to damages and
attorney’s fees. Likewise, Plaintiffs’ reliance on Jairath v. Dyer is misplaced. In
Jairath, remand was appropriate because – though the plaintiff’s state law claim
incorporated violation of a duty imposed by federal law as an element – “there was
no private cause of action with respect to the federal duty.” 154 F.3d at 1283.
Plaintiffs, by contrast, bring suit under a federal law creating a private cause of action.
See 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692–1692k. Violation of the FDCPA is not an element of
Plaintiffs’ state law claims; it is a claim unto itself.
Though 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c) allows a district court to decline supplemental
jurisdiction over state law claims in certain limited circumstances, that provision does
not confer the discretion to remand “a case that includes a properly removed federal
claim.” In re City of Mobile, 75 F.3d 605, 607 (11th Cir. 1996). Additionally, while
28 U.S.C. § 1441(c) contemplates severance and remand of certain claims upon
removal of a larger case, it does so only for claims “not within the original or
supplemental jurisdiction of the district court or a claim that has been made
nonremovable by statute.”
Plaintiffs’ state law claims fall squarely within this court’s supplemental
jurisdiction, making severance and remand unavailable. Those claims, like the
FDCPA claim, allege Defendant acted unlawfully in its dealings related to Mr.
Hayley’s line of credit. Thus, the state law claims “arise out of a common nucleus of
operative fact with a substantial federal claim.” Parker v. Scrap Metal Processors,
Inc., 468 F.3d 733, 743 (11th Cir. 2006) (citing United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs,
383 U.S. 715, 725 (1966)).
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand (Doc. # 6) is
DONE this 4th day of December, 2012.
/s/ W. Keith Watkins
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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