Tower v. Richland County et al
ORDER directing the parties to file a memorandum of law addressing whether the court has jurisdiction over this removal action by February 27, 2017. Signed by Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett on 2/13/2017. (bgoo)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Richland County; Judith Ann Carter, in her
C/A No. 3:17-165-TLW-PJG
This action was removed by the defendants from the Richland County Court of Common
Pleas on January 19, 2017. Specifically, the defendants assert that the action presents a federal
question. However, upon review of the Complaint, the court is concerned that it may lack
jurisdiction over this matter because the only federal claim raised in the Complaint appears to be
patently without merit under Lissau v. Southern Food Service, Inc., 159 F.3d 177 (4th Cir. 1998).
See Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 536-37 (1974) (explaining that federal district courts are
prohibited from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over claims that are “so attenuated and
unsubstantial as to be absolutely devoid of merit,” “obviously frivolous,” “plainly unsubstantial,”
or “no longer open to discussion”) (internal quotations omitted); Holloway v. Pagan River Dockside
Seafood, Inc., 669 F.3d 448, 452-53 (4th Cir. 2012) (finding that a federal court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over a complaint raising claims “ ‘so insubstantial, implausible . . . or otherwise
completely devoid of merit as not to involve a federal controversy’ ”) (citation omitted); Lovern v.
Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999) (“The mere assertion of a federal claim is not sufficient
to obtain jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. . . . Federal jurisdiction requires that a party assert
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a substantial federal claim.”) (internal quotation marks & citation omitted); see also Lissau, 159 F.3d
at 181 (“We . . . reiterate that supervisors are not liable in their individual capacities for Title VII
violations.”). Based on the foregoing, the court requests further briefing on this issue. It is hereby
ORDERED that the parties shall have until February 27, 2017 to file a memorandum of law
addressing whether the court has jurisdiction over this removal action since the sole federal claim
asserted—a Title VII claim against the individual defendant in her individual capacity—appears to
be precluded by Lissau and therefore absolutely devoid of merit.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Paige J. Gossett
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
February 13, 2017
Columbia, South Carolina
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