Emsweller v. Bi-State Development Agency

Filing 8

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this case is REMANDED to the state court in which it was filed. Signed by District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig on October 27, 2016. (BRP)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI EASTERN DIVISION TWESTLY EMSWELLER, Plaintiff v. BI-STATE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY, INC., Defendant. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. 4:16CV01532 AGF MEMORANDUM AND ORDER This wrongful termination action was brought in Missouri state court under the Missouri Human Rights Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010, et seq. Upon review of the record, the Court concludes that the case was improperly removed to this Court by Defendant Bi-State Development Agency, Inc. (“Bi-State”). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will sua sponte remand the case to state court. Plaintiff claims that he was unlawfully terminated by Bi-State in retaliation for opposing conduct that violated the MHRA. Bi-State removed the case to this Court, asserting federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Bi-State contended that Plaintiff’s claim requires interpretation of the interstate compact that created Bi-State, as approved by Congress pursuant to the Compact Clause, in order to determine the applicability of the MHRA to Bi-State. This determination is, according to Bi-State, a question of federal law.1 Federal question jurisdiction applies to “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treatises of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. If at any point before final judgment it appears that a federal district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the court may, acting sua sponte, remand the action to state court. Transit Cas. Co. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, 119 F.3d 619, 623 (8th Cir. 1997); State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Sentry Select Ins. Co., No. 4:15 CV 149 CDP, 2015 WL 500519, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 5, 2015). “Removal statutes are strictly construed, and any doubts about the propriety of removal are resolved in favor of state court jurisdiction and remand.” Collier v. Bi-State Dev. Agency of Mo.-Ill. Metro. Dist., No. 4:14-CV-1263-JCH, 2014 WL 5343357, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 20, 2014) (citation omitted). Here, the Court does not believe that state court petition, which is based entirely on state law, was properly removed. The fact that consideration of the Bi-State compact may be required to determine whether the MHRA applies to Bi-State does not provide a basis for federal question jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claim. See Brust v. ACF Indus., LLC, No. CIV.A. 11-4839, 2011 WL 6756921, at *5-6 (D.N.J. Dec. 21, 2011) (“[T]he fact that the construction of the [inter-state] compact is governed by federal law and may preclude liability for the [common-law premises liability] claims alleged does not convert 1 After removal, Bi-State filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, arguing that the MHRA does not apply to Bi-State. Plaintiff failed to respond to the motion to dismiss. 2 the common law claim into a federal question.”); Collier, 2014 WL 5343357, at *1 (holding that fact that interpretation of the Bi-State compact involved in the present case was necessary to resolve a choice of law question did not serve as a basis for federal question jurisdiction over a claim against Bi-State for breach of a pension plan); see also Amalgamated Transit Union Div. 788 v. Bi-State Dev. Agency of Mo.-Ill.Metro. Dist., No. 4:15-CV-00455-AGF, 2015 WL 3645513, at *3 (E.D. Mo. June 10, 2015) (remanding claims by a labor union against Bi-State for breach of contract and specific performance relating to a collective bargaining agreement between the parties). Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this case is REMANDED to the state court in which it was filed. _________________________________ AUDREY G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRCIT JUDGE Dated this 27th day of October, 2016 3

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