Andrews v. Washington State Department of Social and Health Services et al

Filing 33

ORDER by Judge Benjamin H. Settle denying 22 Motion for Summary Judgment. This case is REMANDED to the Mason County Superior Court. (TG; cc mailed to pro se defendant Baumann)

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1 2 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA 6 7 SHELLEY D. ANDREWS, 8 Plaintiff, 9 v. 10 WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES, 11 and DAN BAUMANN, 12 CASE NO. C15-5871BHS ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND REMANDING Defendants. 13 14 This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Washington State Department 15 of Social and Health Services’ (“DSHS”) motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 22). The 16 Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and 17 the remainder of the file and hereby rules as follows: I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY 18 19 On October 20, 2015, Plaintiff Shelley Andrews (“Andrews”) filed a complaint 20 against DSHS and Dan Baumann (“Baumann”) in Mason County Superior Court for the 21 State of Washington. Dkt. 3 at 5–7. Andrews asserts a cause of action for common law 22 negligence and multiple violations of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. ORDER - 1 1 On December 1, 2015, DSHS removed the matter to this Court. Dkt. 1. In the 2 removal notice, DSHS listed Baumann’s address in Olympia, Washington. Id. at 4. 3 On May 9, 2016, the Court granted DSHS’s motion to dismiss Andrews’ 1983 4 claims. Dkt. 18. 5 On November 22, 2016, DSHS filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 22. 6 DSHS sent notice to Baumann via email pursuant to a private “e-service agreement.” Id. 7 at 15. On December 21, 2016, Andrews responded. Dkt. 28. On December 30, 2016, 8 DSHS replied. Dkt. 29. 9 II. DISCUSSION 10 “[W]here a district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original 11 jurisdiction, it may sua sponte decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over 12 remaining state law claims.” See Sikhs for Justice “SFJ”, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., 144 F. 13 Supp. 3d 1088, 1096 (N.D. Cal. 2015) (quotation omitted). The relevant federal statute 14 provides that: 15 16 17 18 19 The district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim under subsection (a) if(1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law, (2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or claims over which the district court has original jurisdiction, (3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction, or (4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling reasons for declining jurisdiction. 20 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c) (emphasis added). 21 “[E]xercising discretion and deciding whether to decline, or to retain, 22 supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims when any factor in subdivision (c) is ORDER - 2 1 implicated is a responsibility that district courts are duty-bound to take seriously.” Acri v. 2 Varian Associates, Inc., 114 F.3d 999, 1001 (9th Cir. 1997), supplemented, 121 F.3d 714 3 (9th Cir. 1997), as amended (Oct. 1, 1997). “If the federal claims are dismissed before 4 trial, the state law claims ‘should’ be dismissed.” Grant v. Alperovich, 993 F. Supp. 2d 5 1356, 1366 (W.D. Wash. 2014) (quoting United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 6 726 (1966)). See also Carnegie–Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 n. 7 (1988). 7 In this case, the Court sua sponte remands the remaining state law claim. 8 Although trial is set for a little over a month from now, the Court finds that the remaining 9 claim belongs in state court. Even though supplemental jurisdiction exists over non10 diverse defendants, federal court should not be called upon to answer state law questions 11 between non-diverse parties when the federal questions were dismissed early in the 12 proceeding. In other words, the Court should have remanded the matter with or soon 13 after ruling on DSHS’s motion to dismiss the federal claims. Regarding the current 14 motion, DSHS’s motion has merit, but the Court is hesitant, when it is unnecessary, to 15 pass upon the duties a state agency has to train its social workers. Andrews also touches 16 upon a possible discovery dispute that could potentially delay the motion as well as trial 17 in this matter. In light of all of these factors, the Court declines to exercise supplemental 18 jurisdiction over Andrews’ remaining claim. 19 20 III. ORDER Therefore, it is hereby ORDERED that DSHS’s motion for summary judgment is 21 DENIED without prejudice (Dkt. 22), the Court declines to exercise supplemental 22 ORDER - 3 1 jurisdiction, and the Clerk shall REMAND this matter to Mason County Superior Court 2 and close this case. 3 Dated this 23rd day of January, 2017. A 4 5 BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 ORDER - 4

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