Berrett v. Clark County School District No. 161
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL The Court hereby GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Court to Decline Jurisdiction. (Dkt. 46 .) Plaintiffs' state law claims are dismissed without prejudice. Signed by Judge Edward J. Lodge. (caused to be mailed to non Registered Participants at the addresses listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) by (jp)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO
RONALD RYAN BERRETT and
LANIE BERRETT, husband and wife,
Case No. 4:12-CV-0626-EJL
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
CLARK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Currently pending before the Court is Defendant’s Motion for Court to Decline
Jurisdiction. (Dkt. 46). The parties have filed their responsive briefing and the matter is
now ripe for the Court’s consideration.
Having fully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments
are adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding
further delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would
not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Motions shall be decided on the record
before this Court without oral argument.
On September 30, 2014, this Court issued a decision dismissing all of Plaintiffs’
claims. (Dkt. 38.) These included claims brought under the Americans with Disabilities
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a), (“ADA”); the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f), 3613;
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER- 1
and Idaho law, including termination in violation of public policy, specifically the Idaho
Whistleblower Act, I.C. §§ 6-2101-2109. (Dkt. 1.) Plaintiffs alleged that the employment
practices described in the Complaint occurred in Clark County, Idaho. (Id., ¶ 6).
Plaintiffs appealed the Court’s decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. (Dkt.
41.) On March 17, 2017, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision affirming in part and reversing
in part the Court’s decision. (Dkt. 45.) The Ninth Circuit affirmed the Court’s decision
dismissing the federal claims, reversed the Court’s decision dismissing the state law claims,
and remanded the case back to the Court for further proceedings.
Three days after the case was remanded, Defendant moved to effectively dismiss
the remaining state law claims. (Dkt. 46.) Defendant argues that the Court should decline
jurisdiction over the state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1367(c).
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. The Plaintiffs’ Complaint initially
raised claims based on federal laws over which the Court has original jurisdiction. See 28
U.S.C. § 1331 (“The district court shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising
under the constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”) The Complaint also raised
state law claims over which the Court exercised supplemental jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1367(a) (“[I]n any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the
district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related
to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case
or controversy under Article III of the United states constitution.”)
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In its original decision dismissing Plaintiffs’ state law claims, the Court opted to
exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims after dismissing the federal
law claims. (Dkt. 38.) However, at this point and after the Ninth Circuit’s decision, all of
Plaintiffs’ federal claims have been dismissed and the Court is left to decide whether to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ only remaining claim: wrongful
discharge in violation of the Idaho Whistleblower Act.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1367(c)(3), the Court has discretion to decide whether to
decline, or exercise, supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims. “To
decline jurisdiction under §1367(c)(3), the district court must first identify the dismissal
that triggers the exercise of discretion and then explain how declining jurisdiction serves
the objectives of economy, convenience and fairness to the parties, and comity.” Trustees
of Constr. Indus. & Laborers Health & Welfare Trust v. Desert Valley Landscape &
Maintenance, Inc., 333 F.3d 923, 925 (9th Cir. 2003).
In this case, after the appeal to the Ninth Circuit, the Court is left to decide the state
claim exclusively. Thus, the Ninth Circuit remand essentially triggered the Court to
conduct a 28 U.S.C. §1367(c)(3) analysis to determine whether it should exercise
jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ state claims exclusively for the purpose of trial.
The Court finds that the interests of economy, convenience, fairness, and comity
weigh heavily in favor of dismissing the case without prejudice in order that the case may
be tried in the Idaho state courts. First and foremost, the state courts are in the best position
to determine claims, such as those remaining here, that hinge on state policy considerations.
Second, the state courts are likely in a better position to have this case set for trial before
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this Court can set the case for trial. Third, nearly two and a half years have passed since
the Court issued a decision dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims. Thus, the parties and the Court
will have to reacquaint themselves with the facts of this case and prepare for trial essentially
anew whether this case is tried in state or federal court.
Plaintiffs raise three basic arguments in favor of the Court retaining jurisdiction over
these state law claims. First, Plaintiffs are concerned about further delays, especially in
light of the fact the harm alleged in the complaint occurred almost five years ago. (Dkt. 47,
p. 3.) Plaintiffs argue that, because of the timing of vacating the jury trial, they are ready
to try the case as soon as schedules allow and believe they will be able to go to trial sooner
if the Court retains jurisdiction over the state law claims. Id., p. 4. Second, Plaintiffs argue
that this Court has already considered Plaintiff state claims and is, therefore familiar with
them. Id., p. 4. Third, Plaintiffs argue that there are expenses associated with starting over
in state court, including the costs of filing fees as well as the costs necessary to prepare
pretrial filings under state law. Id.
The Court has considered Plaintiffs’ concerns but is, nevertheless, convinced that
the state court is in a better position to try these claims for the reasons outlined above.
Moreover, while the Court is mindful of the Plaintiffs’ expressed cost concerns, the
Defendant expressed a countervailing argument that costs will be reduced if the case is
tried in Clark County, where the alleged conduct occurred and witnesses are located. Thus,
the economic factors, on balance, like the convenience and fairness factors, do not sway
the Court in favor of exercising its jurisdiction over the remaining state court claims.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER- 4
In light of the foregoing, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendant’s Motion for Court
to Decline Jurisdiction. (Dkt. 46.) Plaintiffs’ state law claims are dismissed without
DATED: April 18, 2017
Edward J. Lodge
United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER- 5
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