Joseph v. Linehaul Logistics, Inc.
ORDER denying 5 Motion to Remand. Signed by Judge Donald W. Molloy on 3/8/2013. (dle)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MONTANA
LINEHAUL LOGISTICS, INC.,
Plaintiff moves to stay count one of the complaint asserting retaliatory
discharge, brought under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, and remand count
two of the complaint asserting tortious interference with business relationship,
brought under state law. (Doc. 5.) Defendant objects. (See doc. 14.)
Ms. Joseph first brought suit against LineHaul in Montana’s Fourth Judicial
District Court May 2, 2011 asserting violation of state and federal wage and hour
laws by failing to pay her overtime wages and alleging wrongful termination of
employment. The action was removed to this Court. See Joseph v. Linehaul
Logistics, Inc., No. CV 11-114-M-JCL (D. Mont. 2012). A jury returned a verdict
for Ms. Joseph on her wrongful discharge claim and for LineHaul on her wage and
hour claim. After the entry of judgment, both parties filed post-trial motions. The
Court denied both parties’ post-trial motions. LineHaul appealed and Ms. Joseph
filed a cross-appeal. The appeal has not yet been decided.
Ms. Joseph commenced a this action against LineHaul in Montana’s Fourth
Judicial District Court January 14, 2013. Count one alleges LineHaul violated the
Fair Labor Standards Act by terminating Ms. Joseph in retaliation for complaining
about not being paid overtime while count two alleges LineHaul tortiously
interfered with her business relationships. LineHaul answered and removed the
case to federal court January 22, 2013.
Ms. Joseph’s wrongful termination claim in this action is identical to the
first case now on appeal before the Ninth Circuit, save for her citation to the Fair
Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 215(a)(3), in this matter where her previous
complaint did not. A stay of this claim is not warranted. If Ms. Joseph is
successful in her appeal, her wrongful termination claim will be addressed in the
context of the first lawsuit. LineHaul argues summary judgment is proper on Ms.
Joseph’s Fair Labor Standards Act claim based on res judicata and collateral
estoppel. Ms. Joseph has not presented grounds to avoid answering this attack.
Both parties have the right to “secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive
determination” of this action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 1.
Ms. Joseph argues the Court lacks supplemental jurisdiction over her state
law tortious interference claim and that the same should be severed and remanded
to state court. She claims removal and the Court’s exercise of supplemental
jurisdiction is proper only if the tortious interference claim is so related to the Fair
Labor Standards Act claim that it forms “part of the same case or controversy
under Article III of the Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). This standard is met
where the state law claim and the federal claim share a common nucleus of
operative fact. Bahrampour v. Lambert, 356 F.3d 969, 978 (9th Cir. 2004)
Plaintiff claims there is no common nucleus of operative facts between her
state tortious interference claim and federal wrongful discharge claim. Plaintiff is
incorrect. Her complaint involves a common set of facts which would normally be
considered one case or controversy. Defendant argues this conclusion is warranted
because consideration of evidence of the tortious interference claim would be
necessary to properly decide the remedy for Ms. Joseph’s retaliatory discharge
claim if it proceeds to trial. Furthermore, the inclusion of paragraph seven, which
presents allegations of fact to support Ms. Joseph’s retaliatory discharge claim, in
the recital of her tortious interference claim, is textual support for the conclusion
that a common nucleus of operative animates both counts of the complaint.
In accordance with the foregoing, IT IS ORDERED Plaintiff’s motion (doc.
5) is DENIED. Plaintiff’s motion to stay her Fair Labor Standards Act claim is
without merit and denied. Plaintiff’s motion to sever and remand her state law
tortious interference claim is denied, subject to renewal if the Court grants
Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and disposes of Plaintiff’s federal
claim in this case.
DATED this 8th day of March, 2013.
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