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Reed v. Denny

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

October 29, 2019

MARION REED, Individually and as Administrator of Estate of Barbara C. Reed, JENNIFER EDSON and RANDY REED, Plaintiffs,
v.
CHARLES W. DENNY, IV and SANDRA DENNY, as personal representatives of the Estate of Charles W. Denny, III, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER [1]

          SHERI POLSTER CHAPPELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on sua sponte review. Because this Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims, the case is remanded back to state court.[2]

         BACKGROUND

         In August 2018, Plaintiffs initiated this wrongful death and survival action in Iowa state court against Defendants Schneider Electric USA, Inc., as successor-in-interest to Square D Company (“Square D”), Charles W. Denny, III[3] (“Charles Denny”), and Does 1-10. (Doc. 1-2). Plaintiffs allege because of Defendants' negligence, Barbara Reed was exposed to asbestos, which led to her death. (Id.). Defendants removed the case to the Northern District of Iowa, relying on 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 (federal question), 1343(3) (civil rights/constitutional claims), and 1332 (diversity) to confer jurisdiction. (Doc. 1).

         The Northern District of Iowa determined that it lacked personal jurisdiction over Charles Denny III, and because his Estate had been filed in Collier County, Florida, transferred the case to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). (Docs. 73; 75). But before doing so the Northern District of Iowa dismissed the only federal claim (Doc. 74).

         DISCUSSION

         Here, the only federal claim (declaratory relief as to whether certain Iowa statutes are unconstitutional) has been dismissed. (Doc. 74). Indeed, Plaintiffs' Third Amended Complaint (Doc. 145) only alleges state law claims and asserts: “There is no longer a federal question in this case. This Court may have supplemental jurisdiction over the Florida state law claims, notwithstanding the lack of diversity among the parties.” (Doc. 145 at ¶ 9) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1367).

         Federal district courts are given supplemental jurisdiction over state claims that “form part of the same case or controversy” as federal claims over which they have original jurisdiction. See28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). This jurisdictional extension has limits, however, and a district court “may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over [such] claim[s] ... if ... [it] has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). The decision of whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction where a district court has dismissed all federal claims is left to the court's discretion, as “pendent jurisdiction is a doctrine of discretion, not of plaintiffs right.” United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966) (footnote omitted); see also Raney v. Allstate Ins. Co., 370 F.3d 1086, 1088-89 (11th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). When deciding whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction, district courts should consider “judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity.” Baggett v. First Nat'l Bank of Gainesville, 117 F.3d 1342, 1353 (11th Cir.1997) (citations omitted). “Another important consideration ... is the running of a state statute limitation.” Ingram v. Sch. Bd. of Miami Dade Cty., 167 Fed.Appx. 107, 109 (11th Cir. 2006) (citations omitted).

         As noted, the Court dismissed the federal claim over which it had original jurisdiction, leaving only the state law claims. On this posture, Plaintiffs are no longer entitled to remain in federal court. See28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3); Busse v. Lee Cty., Fla., 317 Fed.Appx. 968, 973-74 (11th Cir. 2009) (“Since the district court ‘had dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction,' it therefore had the discretion not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over [Appellant's] state law claims.” (citation omitted)).

         Having considered the above-discussed factors, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims. See Baggett, 117 F.3d at 1353 (“Where § 1367(c) applies, considerations of judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity may influence the court's discretion to exercise supplemental jurisdiction.” (citations omitted)). This case has not progressed past Defendants' motion to dismiss, and thus it is still in the early stages of litigation. See Raney, 370 F.3d at 1089 (encouraging district courts to dismiss remaining state claims when the federal claim has been dismissed prior to trial). In addition, resolution of Plaintiffs' state law claims depends on determinations of state law. Finally, there are no concerns about the timeliness of Plaintiffs' claims because § 1367(d) tolls the statutes of limitation for state claims during the period in which they have been pending in federal court and for thirty (30) days after an order of dismissal. See28 U.S.C. § 1367(d); Jinks v. Richland Cty., 538 U.S. 456, 465 (2003) (upholding 28 U.S.C. § 1367(d) as constitutional); Beck v. Prupis, 162 F.3d 1090, 1099-1100 (11th Cir. 1998) (“[A] dismissal under section 1367 tolls the statute of limitations on the dismissed claims for 30 days”); see generally Dunavant v. Sirote & Permutt, P.C., No. CIV. A. 13-0268-WS-M, 2014 WL 2885483, at *13 n.7 (S.D. Ala. June 25, 2014). For these reasons, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' state claims and will remand this case to the Iowa state state court.[4]

         Accordingly, it is now ORDERED:

(1) The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over this case and therefore the case is REMANDED to the Iowa District Court in and for Linn County.
(2) The Clerk is DIRECTED to transmit a certified copy of this Opinion and Order to the Clerk of that Court.
(3) The Clerk is further DIRECTED to terminate any pending motion or deadlines and ...

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