The opinion of the court was delivered by: MOTLEY
Plaintiff, an individual employee of defendant Metro-North, asserts that defendants have committed various state law torts against him. Plaintiff makes this motion to remand his claims to state court after defendants removed them to this court. For the reasons stated below, this motion is granted.
Plaintiff John Shannon is a supervisor employed by defendant Metro-North. Plaintiff alleges that when his position with defendant was abolished, he exercised his seniority rights to become Supervisor of Structures in the New York office. However, defendant Maglione, the person in charge of the New York office, allegedly refused to let plaintiff take the position. Instead, defendant Maglione directed plaintiff to serve as a safety supervisor, which allegedly involved demeaning work. Defendant also allegedly harassed plaintiff and threatened him repeatedly with physical harm.
As a result of this treatment, plaintiff demanded through his union representative and his attorney that defendant Metro-North take appropriate action against defendant Maglione. Eventually, plaintiff was successful at obtaining the position he desired and defendant Maglione was "cautioned" for his behavior.
Plaintiff alleges that defendant Maglione and his supervisor, defendant Lehn, then instituted a pattern of harassment against plaintiff in retaliation for his bringing the matter up with defendant Metro-North. According to plaintiff, defendants have (1) sought to disqualify plaintiff as a supervisor, (2) defamed plaintiff by asserting that he had abandoned a vehicle which he had not abandoned, (3) subjected him to disciplinary charges which were undeserved, (4) required him to report to Metro-North headquarters every day, something which was not required of other supervisors, and (5) engaged in (and continue to engage in) other harassing conduct towards plaintiff. Plaintiff seeks from all defendants compensatory and punitive damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation. Plaintiff also seeks relief from the individual defendants for their tortious interference with his contractual relations with defendant Metro-North.
Plaintiff amended his complaint to remove any references to § 1983 (although the references to the First Amendment remain), and added a claim for tortious interference with contractual relations. He then filed his case in New York Supreme Court and defendants removed the case to this court. Plaintiff then filed this motion to remand.
Plaintiff argues that this court has no subject matter jurisdiction because no federal question is raised in the complaint. Defendants' papers raise two points in opposition
, (1) that there is indeed a federal question raised in the complaint and that the action is removable under the "well-pleaded complaint" rule, and (2) that the state law claims have been preempted by the RLA and thereby converted into federal claims. As will be seen shortly, both of these points are without merit.
A. Federal Claims Raised Under the "Well-Pleaded Complaint" Rule
According to the Second Circuit, "a defendant in an action filed in state court may remove that claim to federal court . . . if the plaintiff's 'well-pleaded complaint' includes a federal cause of action." Shafii v. British Airways, PLC, 83 F.3d 566, 569 (2d. Cir. 1996) (holding that a wrongful discharge claim and a breach of mediation agreement claim between an airline and an employee are not removable to federal court). See also Smith v. Dunham Bush Inc., 959 F.2d 6, 8 (2d Cir. 1992)("Federal question jurisdiction generally exists only when a well-pleaded complaint raises issues of federal law on its face.") Defendants argue that plaintiff's repeated references in the complaint to the First Amendment
raise federal questions that make the case removable. This is not the case.
Though the complaint makes repeated references to the First Amendment, plaintiff has conceded in his moving papers that he does not and cannot (given this court's earlier ruling) seek relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the statute upon which plaintiff would have to rely to recover damages stemming from his alleged First Amendment violation. In fact, § 1983 is not mentioned once in the complaint, nor is it stated anywhere that an alleged violation of plaintiff's alleged First Amendment rights entitles him to damages. In short, no issue of federal law is raised. All of the causes of action listed in the complaint are grounded in state tort law, and plaintiff's alleged First Amendment right is not relevant to whether or not defendants are liable under these causes of action. If defendants did indeed commit the torts he mentions (namely, if they engaged in outrageous conduct, defamed him, and tortiously interfered with his contractual relations), then defendants are liable irrespective of whether plaintiff's First Amendment rights were violated or not. Thus, the references to the First Amendment are entirely ...