Seibert et al v. Phenicie et al
Memorandum Opinion and Order of Remand. Plaintiffs' 12 motion to remand is granted. Case remanded to the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Sara Lioi on 1/26/17. (S,HR)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
HERMAN SEIBERT, Trustee, et al.,
DONALD PHENICIE, Trustee, et al,
CASE NO. 1:16CV2984
JUDGE SARA LIOI
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND
ORDER OF REMAND
Before the Court is the motion of plaintiffs to remand this case to the Crawford County
Common Pleas Court. (Doc. No. 12 [“Mot.”].) The remaining defendants have failed to file a
response to the motion, and the time for responding has passed. For the reasons discussed below,
the unopposed motion to remand is granted.
On November 7, 2016, plaintiffs, property owners, brought suit in state court against
certain property-owning trusts (“trust defendants”), the State of Ohio, Department of
Transportation, and Rover Pipeline LLC (“Rover”). On its face, the complaint raised only state
law claims for breach of contract, trespass, appropriation, tortious interference, and nuisance.
Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages, as well as mandamus and injunctive relief
pursuant to state statutory law.
On December 13, 2016, Rover removed the action to federal court on the basis of federal
question jurisdiction, maintaining that this Court had original subject matter jurisdiction because
plaintiffs’ claims against it arise under the Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. § 717, inasmuch as it is a
“natural gas company and once Rover commences service” as set forth in the complaint, “it will
be engaged in the transportation of natural gas in interstate commerce, subject to FERC’s
jurisdiction under the Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 717 et seq.” (Doc. No. 1 (Notice of
Removal) ¶ 4.) Accordingly, Rover represented that the action could be removed to this Court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. (Id. ¶ 5.) Upon removal, the Court assumed supplemental
jurisdiction over the state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
On December 19, 2016, plaintiffs, with the stipulated agreement of Rover, filed a notice
of dismissal as to Rover, purporting to dismiss Rover from the action without prejudice. (Doc.
No. 10.) The Court construed the stipulated notice as a motion under Rule 21 and granted the
same. (See Doc. No. 16.) Contemporaneously with the filing of the notice to dismiss Rover,
plaintiffs moved to remand the matter to state court on the ground that the causes of action
against the remaining defendants involve only “state issues between Ohio resident parties for
which there is no jurisdiction in this Court.” (Mot. at 65.)
Since the Court permitted Rover to be dismissed from this action, only state law claims
remain. The Court may, in its discretion, either retain jurisdiction over those claims and proceed
on the merits, Carlsbad Tech., Inc. v. HIF Bio, Inc., 556 U.S. 635, 639-40, 129 S. Ct. 1862, 173
L. Ed. 2d 843 (2009), or decline jurisdiction and remand the complaint to the state court. See 28
U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). When determining whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction, “a federal
court should consider and weigh in each case, and at every stage of the litigation, the values of
judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity[.]” Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484
U.S. 343, 350, 108 S. Ct. 614, 98 L. Ed. 2d 720 (1988).
“Comity to state courts is considered a substantial interest; therefore, [the Court] applies a
strong presumption against the exercise of supplemental jurisdiction once federal claims have
been dismissed—retaining residual jurisdiction ‘only in cases where the interests of judicial
economy and the avoidance of multiplicity of litigation outweigh [any] concern over needlessly
deciding state law issues.’” Packard v. Farmers Inc. Co. of Columbus, Inc., 423 F. App’x 580,
584 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Moon v. Harrison Piping Supply, 465 F.3d 719, 728 (6th Cir. 2006)
(further citation omitted)). “[G]enerally ‘[w]hen all federal claims are dismissed before trial, the
balance of considerations usually will point to dismissing the state law claims, or remanding
them to state court if the action was removed.’” Id. at 585 (quoting Musson Theatrical v. Fed.
Express Corp., 89 F.3d 1244, 1254-55 (6th Cir. 1996) (further citations omitted)).
Here, this matter is in an early pretrial procedural posture. The Court has yet to set any
dates and deadlines, and the parties have engaged in no discovery. Additionally, the Court has
not had the opportunity to rule on the substance of any of the state law claims. Under these
circumstances, judicial economy and the avoidance of multiplicity of litigation do not counsel in
favor of retaining this case. Accordingly, the balance of considerations points toward returning
the state law claims raised in the complaint to state court. See Moon, 465 F.3d at 728 (where
federal claims have been dismissed before trial, a federal court ordinarily should not reach the
plaintiffs’ state law claims) (citations omitted); Thurman v. DaimlerChrysler, Inc., 397 F.3d 352,
359 (6th Cir. 2004) (similar) (citations omitted).
For all of the foregoing reasons, plaintiffs’ motion to remand (Doc. No. 12) is granted,
and this matter is remanded to the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: January 26, 2017
HONORABLE SARA LIOI
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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