EL v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING 5 Motion to Dismiss and REMANDING remaining claim to Superior Court. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 06/09/2017. (lckbj1)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING
AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, et al., )
No. 16-cv-1886 (KBJ)
In June of 2016, pro se plaintiff Princess-Cat El (“El”) initiated this action in the
Superior Court of the District of Columbia against the United States Department of
Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), Riverstone Owner, LLC (“Riverstone”),
and an individual named Mr. Anthony. El alleges in her complaint that she is a Section
8 housing tenant, and that Mr. Anthony, who rents the apartment above hers, flooded
her apartment on two occasions, destroying items of El’s personal property and
otherwise resulting in her “partial homelessness, distress, pain and suffering.” (Compl.,
ECF No. 1-2.)
On August 19, 2016, the Superior Court entered an order dismissing El’s claims
against Riverstone after El failed to respond to a motion to dismiss that Riverstone had
filed. (See Order Granting Def. Riverstone Owner, LLC’s Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 31 at 14.) Thereafter, on September 20, 2016, HUD removed El’s complaint to this
Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1), which authorizes federal agencies to remove
state court actions to federal court (see Not. of Removal, ECF No. 1, at 1–2); HUD then
filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint (Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 5). The Court
advised El of her obligations under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Court’s
local rules to respond to the motion, and specifically warned El that, if she did not
respond to the motion by May 18, 2017, the Court may treat the motion as conceded.
(Order, ECF No. 8.) To date, El has neither filed an opposition to the motion nor has
she requested more time to do so. Therefore, the Court will GRANT HUD’s motion as
conceded and will DISMISS El’s claims against the agency without prejudice.
Now that the claims against Riverstone and HUD have been dismissed, what
remains of El’s complaint is her state law tort claim against Mr. Anthony, for which she
seeks $30,000 in damages. (Compl.) This Court had jurisdiction over this claim when
this action was filed because “[w]hen federal parties remove an action under section
1442(a)(1), the federal court assumes jurisdiction over all the claims and parties in the
case regardless of whether the federal court could have assumed original jurisdiction
over the suit.” District of Columbia v. Merit Sys. Prot. Bd., 762 F.2d 129, 132 (D.C.
Cir. 1985) (citation omitted). However, “[w]hen the basis for federal jurisdiction over a
case no longer exists, a District Court has broad discretion to remand the case to state
court[.]” Streicher v. Washington, No. 83cv3295, 1992 WL 73508, at *3 (D.D.C. Mar.
20, 1992) (citation omitted). General equitable factors guide the decision regarding
whether to exercise jurisdiction over purely state law claims, including “comity,
fairness and judicial economy.” Merit Sys. Prot. Bd., 762 F.2d at 133 As courts have
noted, in the “usual case in which all federal-law claims are dismissed before trial, the
balance of factors to be considered under the pendent jurisdiction doctrine . . . will
point toward declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims.”
Araya v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 775 F.3d 409, 417 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (alteration in
original) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Indeed, “federal courts in this circuit and
elsewhere regularly remand cases removed under section 1442(a)(1) once the federal
party is eliminated.” Merit Sys. Prot. Bd., 762 F.2d at 133.
Here, the remaining claim implicates a pure state-law dispute between two
residents of the District of Columbia. This Court finds that the equities point in favor
of remanding El’s claim against Mr. Anthony to Superior Court, and therefore, it will
sua sponte REMAND this case to Superior Court.
A separate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
DATE: June 9, 2017
Ketanji Brown Jackson
KETANJI BROWN JACKSON
United States District Judge
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