Merrick v. Ryan et al

Filing 12

ORDER that Plaintiff's 8 Motion Amend and Motion to Remand to State Court is granted. The Clerk of Court must file Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. Plaintiff's 4 Motion to Remand is granted. This matter is remanded to the Sup erior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona. The Clerk must mail a certified copy of this Order to the Clerk of the Superior Court Maricopa County and close this case. Signed by Senior Judge Stephen M McNamee on 4/17/2014. (Attachments: # 1 Remand Letter)(LFIG)

Download PDF
1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 Anthony Merrick, 10 Plaintiff, 11 12 No. CV 13-2386-PHX-RCB (BSB) vs. ORDER Charles L. Ryan, et al., 13 Defendants. 14 15 I. Procedural History 16 On November 20, 2013, Defendants Hetmer, Miser, Ryan, Henderson, Stephan, 17 and Linderman (“the Removing Defendants”) filed a Notice of Removal of this case from 18 the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona. On November 27, 2013, Defendants 19 Kidwell, Webster, and Zaborsky filed a Notice of Joinder indicating that they consented 20 to and joined in removal. 21 On December 6, 2013, Plaintiff filed an Objection to the notice of removal and a 22 Motion to Remand (Doc. 4). On January 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed a “Motion to Amend 23 Complaint and Request for Remand to the State Court” (Doc. 8) and a proposed 24 Amended Complaint. 25 II. Amended Complaint and Remand 26 In his Motion to Amend, Plaintiff asks that the Court allow him to amend his 27 complaint to “eliminate any and all federal statutes and laws,” and that the Court remand 28 this action to state court. Plaintiff’s proposed amended complaint raises the same claims 1 raised in his original Complaint but relies on entirely on state law. In the lodged First 2 Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims Defendants denied him various religious materials 3 and practices, denied him due process, and violated his right to equal protection of the 4 laws, in violation of Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 12-542 and 41-1493.01, and article 2, 5 sections 12, 32, and 33, and article XX, section 1 of the Arizona Constitution. 6 On February 3, 2014, Defendants filed a Response to Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend 7 in which they ask the Court deny Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend and Remand. Defendants 8 argue that Plaintiff does not make any changes to his factual allegations and that simply 9 removing references to federal law does not divest this Court of jurisdiction. Defendants 10 argue that Plaintiff “is alleging that the Defendants violated his First Amendment rights 11 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is the only vehicle to provide a remedy for the deprivation of 12 ‘rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution.’” Resp. at 2. 13 Where the original Complaint has been served, Rule 15(B)(2) of the Federal Rules 14 of Civil Procedure provides that “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing 15 party’s written consent or the court’s leave. The court should freely give leave when 16 justice so requires.” Given the early stage of these proceedings (Defendants have not yet 17 been required to file an answer), the Court will grant the Motion to Amend and direct the 18 Clerk of Court to file Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint. 19 Although “jurisdiction must be analyzed on the basis of the pleadings filed at the 20 time of removal without reference to subsequent amendments” and “a plaintiff may not 21 compel remand by amending a complaint to eliminate the federal question upon which 22 removal was based,” Sparta Surgical Corp. v. Nat’l Ass’n of Sec. Dealers, Inc., 159 F.3d 23 1209, 1213 (9th Cir. 1998), “a district court has discretion to remand to state court a 24 removed case involving pendent claims upon a proper determination that retaining 25 jurisdiction over the case would be inappropriate.” Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 26 U.S. 343, 357 (1988). “[W]hen the federal-law claims have dropped out of the lawsuit in 27 its early stages and only state-law claims remain, the federal court should decline the 28 -2- 1 exercise of jurisdiction by dismissing the case without prejudice.” Id. at 350 (footnote 2 omitted). 3 Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act (“FERA”), Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 41-1493.01, 4 was passed in 1999 “to protect Arizona citizens’ right to exercise their religious beliefs 5 free from undue governmental interference.” State v. Hardesty, 222 Ariz. 363, 365 (Ariz. 6 2009). FERA’s key provision “permits the government to burden the exercise of religion 7 only if the ‘application of the burden to the person is both . . . [i]n furtherance of a 8 compelling governmental interest [and] [t]he least restrictive means of furthering that 9 compelling governmental interest.’” Id. at 365-66; Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 41-1493.01(C). 10 FERA potentially provides Plaintiff greater religious protections than those in the First 11 Amendment, which requires only that the government have a reasonable justification 12 related to a legitimate penological interest before restricting a prisoner-plaintiff from 13 engaging in a sincerely held religious belief. Shakur v. Schriro, 514 F.3d 878 (9th Cir. 14 2008). 15 Regardless of whether Plaintiff may be attempting to manipulate the forum by 16 deleting his federal-law claim, the Court, in its discretion, concludes that on balance, 17 remand of the First Amended Complaint, which contains only state-law claims, “best 18 serves the principles of economy, convenience, fairness, and comity which underlie the 19 pendent jurisdiction doctrine.” Cohill, 484 U.S. at 357. Accordingly, the Court concludes 20 that Plaintiff may a raise a claim for denial of religious materials and practices based 21 solely Arizona constitutional and statutory rights. Thus, the Court will remand this case 22 to the Maricopa County Superior Court. 23 IT IS ORDERED: 24 25 26 27 28 (1) Plaintiff’s January 17, 2014 Motion Amend and Motion to Remand to State Court (Doc. 8) is granted. (2) The Clerk of Court must file Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint (attached to Doc. 8). (3) Plaintiff’s December 6, 2013 Motion to Remand (Doc. 4) is granted. -3- 1 2 3 (4) This matter is remanded to the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona. (5) The Clerk of Court must mail a certified copy of this Order to: Michael K. Jeanes Clerk of the Superior Court Maricopa County, Arizona Superior Court 201 West Jefferson Phoenix, Arizona 85003-2205 7 (6) The Clerk of Court must close this case. 8 DATED this 17th day of April, 2014. 4 5 6 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -4-

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?