Edson v. Menard
MEMORANDUM and ORDER granting in part, denying in part 26 Motion to Remand. The Court remands Plaintiffs state law claims to the state court, retains jurisdiction of Plaintiffs federal claims, and stays the federal claims pending resolution of the state claims in state court. Signed by Judge William K. Sessions III on 2/6/2018. (law)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF VERMONT
Department of Corrections
Case No.: 2:17-CV-31
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Eric Edson moves for remand to state court of all
of his claims, or, alternatively, his state claims. The Court
held a hearing on the Motion to Remand on January 8, 2018. The
Court requested that the parties attempt to reach an agreement
to allow Plaintiff to properly exhaust his administrative
remedies within the Vermont Department of Corrections (“Vermont
DOC”). The parties were not able to reach such an agreement.
Therefore, the Court remands Plaintiff’s state law claims to the
state court. The Court retains jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s
federal claims, but those claims are stayed pending resolution
of Plaintiff’s state law claims.
Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges that Plaintiff’s state and
federal constitutional rights were violated as a result of
Defendant’s actions or inactions. ECF 8. The Complaint seeks
injunctive relief for violations of Plaintiff’s due process and
equal protection rights—under both the Vermont Constitution and
the United States Constitution—arising out of his furlough
violation and incarceration. See ECF 8, Grounds for Relief ¶¶ 13.
Arguments on the Motion to Remand
Plaintiff alleges that the Vermont DOC illegally revoked
sentence credit it had previously granted and that his furlough
was illegally revoked. He is seeking a shorter sentence and an
immediate return to furlough. Plaintiff contends that these are
effectively habeas corpus claims, Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S.
475, 487-88 (1973), and therefore, Plaintiff must exhaust his
state-court remedies before filing in federal court. 42 U.S.C. §
2254(b)(a). Plaintiff explains that this is what he was trying
to do when Defendant removed to federal court. Plaintiff submits
that because this case could not have been filed originally in
federal court, it must be remanded. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
Defendant contends that Plaintiff’s claims regarding his
furlough status do not implicate the fact or duration of
imprisonment and therefore are not habeas corpus claims.
Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s claim regarding furlough
revocation and later denial based on violation of federal
constitutional rights could have been originally filed in
federal court, and therefore the Motion to Remand should be
denied. Defendant explains that Plaintiff’s state constitutional
claim is based on an alleged violation of the Common Benefits
Clause. Vt. Const. Ch. 1, Art. 7. Defendant argues that even
though this Clause has not been applied to a prisoner, the
Vermont Supreme Court has reviewed claims based on the Clause
and has provided a clear roadmap for the analysis of such
claims. See Baker v. State, 170 Vt. 194. 194, 197, 744 A.2d 864,
This Court has original federal question jurisdiction over
Plaintiff’s federal claims in this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 because Plaintiff asserted federal constitutional claims
against the Defendant. The state court action was thus removable
to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) because original
federal question jurisdiction exists. This Court may exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s remaining Vermont law
claims because “they form part of the same case or controversy
under Article III of the United States Constitution” as
Plaintiff’s federal law claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
over Plaintiff’s state law claims and remands them to the state
court. This case, while couched in terms of both state and
federal constitutional violations, really revolves around
Vermont law and Vermont DOC policies—notably, exhaustion of
Vermont DOC administrative remedies, Vermont prison sentence
calculations, and the Vermont furlough system. This Court may
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state claims
which substantially predominate over related federal claims. 28
U.S.C. § 1367(c)(2). Remand of Plaintiff’s state law claims
under § 1367(c)(2) is both permissible and appropriate. See
Nelson v. City of Rochester, NY, 492 F. Supp. 2d 282, 288
The Court retains jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s federal
claims, as the Court does not have discretion to remand a
federal claim that is properly before it. See Baker v. Kingsley,
387 F.3d 649, 656–57 (7th Cir. 2004) (“It is an abuse of
discretion for a district court to remand a federal claim that
is properly before it.”); Green v. Ameritrade, Inc., 279 F.3d
590, 596 (8th Cir. 2002) (“[A] district court has no discretion
to remand a claim that states a federal question.”); Borough of
West Mifflin v. Lancaster, 45 F.3d 780, 787 (3rd Cir. 1995)
(“[N]othing in § 1367(c) authorizes a district court to decline
to entertain a claim over which it has original jurisdiction
and, accordingly, that section clearly does not sanction the
district court’s remand of this entire case, including the
federal  claims, to the state court”); see also Marcus v. AT&T
Corp., 138 F.3d 46, 52 (2d Cir. 1998) (“Under the well-pleaded
complaint rule, the plaintiff is the master of the complaint,
free to avoid federal jurisdiction by pleading only state claims
even where a federal claim is also available”). Thus, § 1367(c)
does not permit remand of federal claims, regardless of whether
state law claims “predominate” in the action. However, these
federal claims will be stayed pending resolution of Plaintiff’s
state law claims in state court, in the interests of comity,
judicial economy, and to avoid the risk of inconsistent
adjudications. See Nelson, 492 F. Supp. 2d at 288.
While Plaintiff has asserted federal constitutional claims
in conjunction with his state constitutional claims, this case
is really about state processes and sentence calculations.
Disputes over Vermont DOC’s furlough revocation policies,
Vermont DOC’s minimum sentence requirements, and credit for
pretrial time served under Vermont law should be resolved by the
Vermont courts. Thus, the Court remands Plaintiff’s state law
claims to the state court, retains jurisdiction of Plaintiff’s
federal claims, and stays the federal claims pending resolution
of the state claims in state court.
Dated at Burlington, in the District of Vermont, this 6th
day of February, 2018.
/s/William K. Sessions III
William K. Sessions III
U.S. District Court Judge
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